Houlihan’s Dakar Diary: Stage 1

Andrew Houlihan

Australian Andrew Houlihan is competing in his first Dakar event. Speedcafe.com is proudly one of Houlihan’s sponsors and he will be filing a Dakar Daily Diary for us each day to give readers a real insight into the world’s toughest event.

With the electrical issues from the Prologue solved, Andrew Houlihan has picked up almost 30 positions in Stage 1 to sit 69th overall in the 2021 Dakar Rally.

CLICK HERE for Stage 1 Bikes report

Today’s diary entry

It’s been a long, dusty, rocky day. In the saddle approximately 10-and-a-half hours.

In the briefing, they told us about three percent of the special stage was rocky sections, but I reckon they put the decimal point in the wrong place – it felt more like about 30 percent of extreme rocks.

At some points I could only go walking speed and when the cars started flying past, the shower of rocks and dust was insane.

Quad bikes are also a problem to pass with them squirting out a phenomenal amount of dust and rocks.

My approach has been ‘safety first’ and when the dust got too bad, I just had to stop and wait.

Mechanically, the bike went very well with no issues. I only had one minor off for the day and there was no damage to myself or the bike.

I only had one small navigation error when I went against my own rule of not following others.

I was in thick dust and couldn’t see, and then a Red Bull car went roaring past down the river bed. So I thought, ‘the Red Bull guys know where they’re going’. But no! The next thing the Red Bull car was coming straight back at me so I headed for the bushes!

When I first came in, I thought I’d had a bad day with the dust and everything, but then my team told me I’d picked up 30 places. So not a bad day after all!

My start time tomorrow is 6:05am. There’s a 135km liaison before a 457km special stage, and then a 93km run into the bivouac.

They tell us tomorrow is around 80 percent sand, or is that eight percent?

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