South African Dakar rookie star Kenny Gilbert is relishing a well-earned rest day on Saturday following an action packed opening week that saw him wind up 27th overall and 4th among the rookies after a controlled ride to 32nd on Friday’s 345km fifth stage to Arequipa.
Multiple former South African Cross Country champion Gilbert has thoroughly enjoyed his Dakar adventure in spite of losing time to find waypoints on Tuesday before taking a major tumble on Wednesday and having to patch his Husqvarna up to make the finish, all while making up places along the way while riding at 80% in an effort to finish his first Dakar. Kenny then took a second tumble Friday evening following a good day in the saddle, so he’s taking the rest opportunity with both hands.
“I’ve just finished a marathon stage we raced Thursday and Friday,” Kenny confirmed. “I had a decent run Thursday — I did not go the fastest, but I was definitely riding safely and we had a lot of road sections, which suited me a bit better and I had no problems, so I enjoyed it. “I had to work on bike on my own last night, so I was happy nothing went wrong and it was just easy maintenance before we stayed in a place I think was a school last night and actually slept in a big basketball court.
“We set off with a beach start early Friday morning with 10 bikes starting at a time and that was pretty cool, but the dust was an even a bigger issue, so I tried to keep it safe coming into the rest day. There was also lots of fresh fresh, which is very, very dusty, and they put a lot of dunes in today, which was exciting and a lot of fun but very challenging to say the least. “Then in the last 40km, I hit a rock and took quite a big tumble that obviously wasn’t planned for and I landed on my rib, which is a bit tender.
“So I’m just happy to have finished today, the bike is being serviced and I’m on my way to the hotel and excited to just relax on the rest day and then I’ll put my head down fo the last week. “I have a few changes to the bike, which I’m quite excited about, but now it’s time to rest up and hopefully next week is my week!”
With no racing on Saturday, the second half of Dakar 2019 gets under way Sunday morning with a race back up the Peruvian coast to San Juan de Marcona en route to the finish in Lima on Wednesday.