Cyril Despres will be spending this evening in the marathon stage bivouac changing his engine after suffering major gear box issues on the seventh stage of the Dakar today.
With the race entering the marathon stage, Despres and all the other motorcyclists will be spending the night in a completely separate bivouac 150km from the main sight, where no outside assistance is allowed.
Despres, a former motorcycle mechanic, is however able to get assistance from other competitors and will be calling on help from his support rider and water carrier Ruben Faria to help with the engine change.
However despite speculation that it would be Faria that will be donating his engine, MCN can confirm that it will be Polish rider Marek Dabrowski who will swap engines with Despres. Dabrowski is a top rider with seven Dakar finishes to his credit and a best result of 11th, but is currently down in 72nd place and unable to run at his normal pace due to injury.
Speaking to MCN, KTM team manager Alex Doringer said: “Cyril has started work on the engine change already. It wasn’t a pre-agreed with the team, but Marek has not been able to ride like we know he can so it was just a case of making a phone call.”
Despres will be hit with a 15m time penalty for making the change meaning that by the time he starts tomorrows stage eight he will be 29m 07s behind leader Olivier Pain.
KTM had almost certainly planned to make a tactical engine change on the rest day, but now face the dilemma of whether they will still do that as a second engine change comes with a significantly increased time penalty of 45 minutes.
Under rules for pre selected elite riders, KTM can make a request to have Despres’ starting position for tomorrows stage moved up. He is currently set to start the stage in 34th, but it’s likely he will actually get away at around the 25 mark.