The first day of the 2010 Dakar caravan competition in Chile for the was a fairly benign one, with the Frenchmen Cyril Despres and Stephane Peterhansel holding on to their leads in the motorcycle and car categories after four days of racing.
After leaving the Argentine town of Fiambalá and crossing the Andes Mountains via the San Francisco Pass – at just under 5,000 meters above sea level and with temperatrues around 5º C – the drivers threaded their ways through the gentle dunes of the Atacama Desert to the city of Copiapó.
The winner of the 2009 Dakar race, the Spaniard Marc Coma, won the fourth stage of the competition, overcoming the mechanical problems that he previously had with this KTM, managing to cut the difference down to 38 minutes with the competition’s leader, the Frenchman Despres, who came in third.
In cars, the US driver Robby Gordon inrcreased the speed of his Hummer through the open spaces of northern Chile and managed to beat the race leader, the Frenchman Peterhansel (BMW), by one second after covering the 689 kilometers of the route, of which 163 were timed.
This Tuesday the caravan will face a very tough stage, when it will have to cover the 670 kilometers that separate the cities of Copiapó and Antofagasta, heading north off-road via the mining desert, which – in addition to its aridness – is known for its vast copper reserves.
This post is also available in Spanish