With 7 stages of the Dakar Rally 2019 under his belt, Gregory can begin to consider himself a Dakar veteran. Certainly, Stage 7, the first loop stage of this year’s event, contained almost every kind of terrain that riders can expect to encounter in Peru. It was essentially the Dakar in microcosm. After taking 7h36’05 to do the special stage Stuart finds himself in 78th place overall and is still in the top 5 as a rookie in the Original by Motul class.
Stuart described the approximately 100km stretch through the Duna Grande and Duna Argentina sections as “intimidating”. He reported that in these areas, confidence was at least as important as technical riding abilities.
Monday’s stage showed that nerves are starting to fray, even among the leading contenders. Several highly-rated competitors have crashed out, meaning that to still be in the event with just 3 stages remaining is an achievement in itself.
“I’m tired, and it’s a lot of long hours. I’m not going to say I’m having fun in the dunes but this is what the 2019 edition is all about” commented Stuart, “Original by Motul is the toughest way to do it but for me it was always the way I was going to do the Dakar. We share tools, everyone works together – they are the brothers and sisters for the race that help each other. That’s the spirit of the Dakar”.
With no assistance whatsoever, riders in this class must race a little more conservatively and divide their attention between the challenges of navigation and riding through fesh-fesh, and planning the evening’s maintenance and servicing.
Sleep is the first casualty, with late nights working on the bikes and the Dakar’s notoriously early starts. While Stuart found Stage 7 slightly easier than Sundays torturous ordeal, the surviving participants in his class have already been advised that today’s stage, from San Juan de Marcona to Pisco, will be harder again.
Today, Gregory will ride 215km of liaison and 360km of special and will be looking to try and improve on his overall position by staying out of trouble in the thick dust and getting his KTM 450 Rally to the finish.
San Juan de Marcona is renowned as the jumping-off point for visiting the ancient and mysterious Nazca lines. Today, Stuart Gregory will once again be looking to make his own impressions on the Peruvian landscape and on the Dakar Rally 2019.