Stage 5: Chilecito – San Juan de Tucumán
Road connection: 145 km
Selective section: 211 km
Neutralized section: 111km
Selective section: 205 km
Road connection: 231
Total: 912 km
The fifth stage, the longest of the race this year, was divided in two parts. For safety, the organizer cancelled the second part for the bikes as riders were falling like flies on the floor due to the heat, the second selective section for cars.
This Dakar race has been particularly difficult with hard terrains and unbearable heat. On the roads, temperatures reached 47°C, and only a bit lower at the bivouac in Tucuman, but humidity made it harder. These are the weather conditions in Northern Argentina. The two Polaris Xtremeplus that survived to the graveyard of the last stage are now in Tucuman.
Willy Alcaraz N°350: “It was another difficult day – says Willy as he arrives to the bivouac after 11:30 pm. I was not expecting those dunes of the first selective section and I arrived there with too much pressure in my tires. At km 30, I got trapped in the sand trying to go through other people stuck in the sand. It took me 30 minutes to get out. Then, further, I had another tire problem, again, trying to get through cars that would be completely stopped in the fesh-fesh. At km 162, I am sure I went through a waypoint, but the GPS did not register it. This special stage was really hard with soft sand and holes full of fesh-fesh, camel herb and so hot that it felt even hotter if I opened my googles and my helmet. David Castera gave us everything in this stage: fesh-fesh, camel herb and stones. The end of this was great, beautiful landscapes and nice people. They even brought me a meat sandwich, it was a great present!”
Nicolas Duclos/Sebastian Delaunay N°364: “What a day! The first selective section was like Vietnam War. It started in the dunes, but it turned to be “Apocalypse Now”. There was the helicopters flying everywhere, riders on the ground that could not breath, doctors running everywhere… I felt sorry for them. In the dunes, I got trapped by three times and one due to that same competitor that bother us every day, that one that has already bumped his car on us. He was playing with us and then, he got stuck in the sand right in front of us. When he got out, he didn’t even help us!
While Seb tried to put sand away, I watched at the thermometer and it marked 63°C under the sun. Seb had troubles walking, it was so extremely hot. Then we rolled in calm, we had a puncture caused by a thorn. We marked the waypoint that others missed only thanks to Seb´s skills. It was so extreme, so that we did our best to make it to the bivouac.”