New Zealand’s Chris Birch continues to make up lost ground in the 2012 Dakar Rally in South America.
After 10 of 15 days, the KTM rider has climbed back to 34th position overall. He had been down in 149th place after a huge crash on day four.
But Birch ended day 10 in 17th spot, catching up four places overall, from 38th to 34th.
Birch is finding it hard to catch in too many places because the actual time differences from his crash early on in the race are pretty big – 10, 15, 20 minutes to gain on a few more places.
It is achievable though and anything could happen.
“Yes, I did pretty well today! I didn’t ride any faster, I just didn’t get lost and others did,” said Birch.
“I got to these massive dunes and thought hmmm, I’m not too hot on navigation through the dunes, but it turns out some of the other riders had stuffed up somewhere along the way instead, but not me!!
“It was really cool riding today. The last few days have been not so great so it was nice to have some cool riding. We rode along one part and saw ancient Aztec carvings on the side of mountains … that was pretty awesome.
“On to Peru tomorrow! Two countries down, one to go. Tomorrow’s road book is a total monster. I’ve got at least two hours of going through that still tonight. I’m finding that as long as someone is around I’m good, as I don’t stray from the track but, sometimes, I find I can get a bit lost within the road book!”
Spain’s Joan Barreda Bort won stage 10 with countryman and defending champion Marc Coma 1:32 back. Flying Frenchman Cyril Despres is 3:39 behind. Despres leads KTM team-mate Coma for the race overall by 21 seconds.
The race is going down to the wire as the rally moves into Peru and ends three days later in the capital Lima.
“At this level, every second counts,” Despres said. “It’s a scenario that I thought might happen, so I’m not surprised. I’m just happy to have got through another day. In any case, staying out in front for the whole 377 kilometres while riding flat out isn’t easy.”
Coma says the winner might be decided on the final day.
“It’s the tone that’s been set for the rally and I think we’ll keep on battling until the end,” Coma said.
“We keep trying to make the difference all the time and the entry into Peru will be decisive. The race will hinge on the smallest of margins.”
The rally began January 1 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
Meanwhile, don’t forget about the KTM auction fundraiser for Birch – it’s going really well and if you were thinking of bidding and haven’t done it yet, or you know someone like that – time is running out and the auction closes on Sunday night.
© Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com