Sherco rider James West ended the opening day of the 2013 Dakar as the highest placed Brit finishing the day 38th fastest. The Dubai based rider was just 1m 08s behind pace setter Francisco Lopez and is well placed for tomorrow’s significantly longer stage two.
Irishman Stan Watt finished in 44th place onboard his Front row Crescent KTM and was well satisfied with his ride through the short 13km timed special.
He said: “It was a fast stage and you needed big balls to make up time. A lot of it was flat out and the bike is quick. It’s as quick as the factory KTM’s in a straight line, which I’m really pleased about. We’ve got new factory WP suspension on the bike too and it’s working well.
There were times were I was rolling the throttle when I could see the ground was getting rough, expecting the rear to kick up, but it just stayed planted and I was kicking myself that I didn’t just keep it wide open. It’s good that its working that well and we’ve got plenty of time to get used to it.”
Brit based Australian Simon Pavey put in a strong performance onboard his Delta Kunstaffe Husqvarna finishing the stage in 60th place.
He said: “I had a few wobbles out there, but generally the bike felt good. To finish in 60th place is better than I expected so I’m happy with that. It’s good for tomorrow because I know I’m going to be riding with people that are on a similar pace to me. The dust cloud will be moving at the same speed as me which is a good situation to be in.”
Tim Forman put in a strong performance in his first ever Dakar stage moving up massive 85 places from his starting position to finish in 77th place.
He said: “I had a bit of an issue with my GPS on the liaison stage as it wouldn’t click off the fact I’d been through one of the way points. It wasn’t a problem in the end and I had a steady run through the special. The bike is good, it’s turning well and the engine and suspension are strong.”
Lyndon Poskit was another rider who performed well in his first ever Dakar stage moving up from 168th to 78th meaning that he gained an incredible 90 places in a single stage.
He said: “That was awesome and I couldn’t believe it as only 13km long. I came over the last dune and it was like ‘is that it?’ I concentrated hard and did all the navigation with the road book, but I do need to concentrate more on the GPS just to ensure I am clicking off all the way points. To get into the top half on the first day is great for me and the bike was absolutely perfect.”
Honda rider Paul Jay also picked up a number of places finishing the stage in 122nd after starting 176th.
He said: “It was a pretty good start. The bike was a bit twitchy over the bumps and I didn’t know how much I could let it shake its head without backing off. I realised on the special that the steering damper was round right off so once I dialled that in it definitely felt better. We’re running quite a short wheelbase on the bike which should help us on the technical stages.”
Malle Moto rider Craig Bounds made a steady start finishing the day in 148th place. Riding in the class where he gets no outside assistance, Bound’ biggest drama came after the riding had finished.
“I just took it really steady on the special. It’s the first day and there’s not a lot to be gained by taking risks. The biggest problem I had was when I was away from my bike somebody knocked it over. It ended up landing on my spares crate and that bent the exhaust and silencer right underneath my rear mudguard. I got it sorted no problem, it’s just one of those things.”
38th James West Sherco 44.55
44th Stan Watt KTM 45.00
60th Simon Pavey Husqvarna 46.55
77th Tim Forman KTM 49.05
78th Lyndon Poskitt KTM 49.20
122nd Paul Jay Honda 54.20
148th Craig Bounds KTM 58.00