2019 DAKAR: San Juan de Marcona… A Bit Like Baja

262227_matthias.walkner_stage2_Red Bull KTM Factory Racing_Dakar2019_132.jpg

But Is this Similarity Good or Bad for the Americans At Dakar?

As one might expect, Day One had nothing on Day Two. Long miles, silty terrain and another hot, sunny day helped some racers climb even higher up the ladder of success and forced others to slip down the rungs.

Up to now, the environment south of Lima has felt much like being trapped in a wind-tunnel. That’s on fire. It is enough to drive a person mad, if heat stroke doesn’t take him first. So, one can only imagine how this adds to the strain of competing at a highly demanding, not just multi, but multi-multi-day (this means “a butt-load” in French) race. A few carried on steadily, moving just ahead or a little behind their starting position. Others charged pointedly at a spot far from or far more important than the one they earned in Special Stage One. But, just as “Mama Baja” can swiftly change a [wo]man’s fate, Peru can be equally unforgiving.

“This is not only my greatest adventure, but my greatest challenge in racing. Losing the rear wheel 75 km from the finish would prove to be the hardest finish I’ve ever had. But a finish is a finish. And tomorrow is a new day!” – Garrett Poucher #71, Garrett Off-Road Racing Team, USA

Garrett Poucher (#71) had a familiar misfortune as he his bike experienced mechanical issues which set his time back drastically. There are rumors of an image floating around featuring an upbeat Poucher cruising the liaison stage on a naked rear wheel… Tire having been ripped off when his tire-insert (read: bib) disintegrated. But he’s in good spirits and hopeful for a better go at it tomorrow. Robby Gordon (#316) had a strong start in the a.m. with a superb ending at 25th among the cars. In an all-out battle royal between the rally’s best, Ricky Brabec (#15) seemed sure to finish the stage in first place. But the tide turns quickly out on the racecourse, and 2018 Dakar Rally winner, Matthias Walkner (#1), snuck by leaving a mere 00:22 second gap between the two.

“The first two days were great. Today was more or less fast. Like… last year, I’m really confident today with the bumps and the rocks and all the silt. I wanted to win today, but I was told,” he said with a chuckle, “it’s not very good to win today due to tough navigation tomorrow. So, tomorrow’s going to get a little tricky, but I’m looking forward to the next eight days, sitting strong. And I have really high expectations for the [remainder of the rally].” – Ricky Brabec #15, Monster Energy Honda Team, USA

Yesterday’s victor, Joan Barreda (#5) blasted through the finish over a minute after, and the remaining lead riders quickly followed suit – to include former Supercross racer Andrew Short (#29) who, finishing 9th, broke into the Top Ten. As for the other Americans making a name for themselves, Skyler Howes (#73) moved up an impressive 11 positions despite the stages many obstacles. Perhaps thriving on the Baja-like environment – one he’s quite familiar with.

"It's kind of like a San Felipe stage at a SCORE race. Which is sick, but also pretty sketchy. Like a rough sea made of sand… Similar to riding whoops but with a lot of surprises. And then, everything is covered in silt because all of the cars and trucks left first. I feel like this was my strongest area, very similar to Baja. The terrain, the landscape, it felt like being south of the border." – Skyler Howes #73, Garrett Off-Road Racing Team, USA

The route today might seem like it couldn’t have gotten more brutal, but don’t expect there to be any sign of relief yet... Tomorrow they take on SS3, and – as with every stage at Dakar – this one’s going to be a doozy!


  • 2nd Ricky Brabec #15 – 03h 24’ 19”; 3rd in the General Classification

  • 9th Andrew Short #29 – 03h 36’ 22”; ** in the General Classification

  • 35th Skyler Howes #73 – 04h 03’ 52”; 36th in the General Classification

  • 92nd Nathan Rafferty #104 – 05h 30’ 18”; ** in the General Classification

  • 120th Garrett Poucher #71 – 06h 37’ 27”; ** in the General Classification

Top Three Stage Finishers in Motorcycles

  • 1st Matthias Walkner #1 – 03h 23’ 57”; 2nd in the General Classification

  • 2nd Ricky Brabec #15 – 03h 24’ 19”; 3rd in the General Classification

  • 3rd Joan Barreda Bort #5 – 03h 25’ 38”; 1st in the General Classification

Of the female riders, KTM Factory rider Laia Sanz (#17) is keeping up the pace earning 27th place during today’s stage. Czech rider, and Dakar vet, Gabriela “Gabby” Novotna (#57) nabbed a respectable 96th position despite some setbacks. Anastasiya Nifontova (#56) of Russia is seeded at 100. And Malle Moto warrior, Sara Garcia of Spain (#98) held on strong at 118th today. Last but certainly not least, another woman sweating her ass off to live the dream is Peru National, Gianna Velarde Sumary (#130) sitting at 127th.

By Kyra Sacdalan, Justin W. Coffey. www.westx1000.com

Chris Glaspell

The success of any online publication depends on the quality of execution, and
in this respect UpShift Online’s success is virtually assured.  It was founded by veteran motorcycle industry professionals: English-born photographer Simon Cudby, the premier photographer in the world of motocross, and Chris Glaspell, creative director with firms serving clients that include Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Cycle World and Yoshimura. This, plus Upshift’s veteran editorial staff and unrivaled journalism, will gives readers unparalleled views of adventure motorcycling.