Dakar Brit Chris Cork battles on despite losing tyre and police intervention
After a relatively tame start to the Dakar due to shortened stages and bad weather, the race is now well and truly on. While the top men are battling for every second at the front of the standings, Britain’s Chris Cork has been immersed in the extreme adventure of Dakar and the huge challenge of simply making it to the finish.
Wednesday’s stage was the first part of a marathon stage where the riders don’t return to the bivouac at the end of the days riding and they have no technical support from their teams.
It means that routine maintenance such as changing tyres each day can not be done so riders have to make the tyre last for two full days if they want to make it to the finish. But with extreme temperature, flat out trails and big mileage – that isn’t always possible.
On his return to the bivouac at the end of stage five, Cork said: “I couldn't contain myself any longer and I went into race mode. Sandy, rocky pistes are good for me and I quickly overtook many riders. Then when I was flat out the moose (hard ring of rubber used instead of an inner tube) broke up and took the tyre off the rim. The tyre and mouse were trashed.
“I rode for 70k on the rim battling with trucks because I’d dropped so far behind - it was scary. I was stopped by Police and told I couldn't ride without a tyre so I phoned race control who sorted it for me. Riding a bike with no rear tyre through a dry river bed was horrendous and exhausting. I managed to borrow a wheel from a guy who had crashed his Husqvarna, which was sheer luck and somehow made it back at 11:30pm.”
Stage five of the Dakar saw riders climb to an altitude of 4,600m in Bolivia – the highest in Dakar history and with his bike working again Cork said:
“There is great riding in Bolivia and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and people. I feel that over the last two days the Dakar has come alive!!!!”
As a result of Cork’s tyre issues he lost masses of time on stage four. He is now 123rd and last from 152 starters.
Fellow Brit Jamie Smith continues to push on and has now moved up to 117th overall from his 133rd place starting position.