Stage Three of the Dakar Rally 2019 from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, Peru’s second-largest city, on Wednesday saw Port Edward rider Stuart Gregory and his fellow competitors encounter the wonderfully named but brutal fesh-fesh.
This fine dust or sand looks like solid ground – but behaves like soft mud. Along with dry, cracked lake beds and the sand mounds of the Duna Grande and Duna Argentina regions, the 331km special in this stage added up to a timely reminder of just why the Dakar is so tough.
Having completed the stage – but still facing a 467km liaison ride to return to the bivouac – Gregory described himself as extremely dusty but satisfied with another solid ride. In fact, he managed to improve his overall standing in the Moto Classification to 80th position.
Gregory also moved up to ninth in the demanding Original by Motul Class, and in the “race within a race” is now the second Dakar rookie in his class. It was quite a day for climbing, in fact, with competitors reaching an altitude of some 2 000m in Combrepampa.
“The hardest part of Stage Three was dealing with a malfunctioning GPS,” commented Gregory before leaving the end of the stage for the long liaison ride.
“It didn’t pick up a couple of the waypoints which meant that I had to double back a couple of times – making the stage even longer.”
Despite this slight frustration, Gregory is thriving in the Dakar environment, both on and off the bike.
The spirit of camaraderie that pervades this iconic rally event was evident during an impromptu navigational conference between two leading MINIs and a group of motorcyclists – including Gregory – at the foot of one of the dunes.
With the welcome respite of Saturday’s first rest day now on the horizon, Gregory must adjust his tactics for Stage Four. It’s a marathon stage, which means that no vehicle servicing will be permitted in the bivouac after the 405km special and 106km liaison.
Like all the competitors, Gregory will only be allowed to carry out any repairs with the spares and tools that he is carrying with him. Given how well his KTM motorcycle has performed so far, Gregory is confident that this won’t prove to be a spanner in the works.
To find out more about Gregory’s journey, go to: https://powersport.motul.com/ or read the articles below.