With 154 kilometres of link stage, the seventh day of the Dakar 2012 starts out from Copiapó. In fact, the competitors will follow a loop route that will return to the bivouac in the capital of the Atacama region. With 12 millimetres of rain per year, it is one of the driest areas of the planet and the nearby desert will be the terrain of choice for the crews during this stage, all the more so after the cancellation of the previous special. Between the duel concerning the official KTM riders, Cyril Despres et Marc Coma, in the bike race, the battle amongst Argentineans in the quad category, where the Patronelli brothers will be taking on Tomas Maffei, the incredible combat between the trucks which De Rooy's Ivecos are dominating and the car race, in which nobody has managed to open up any big gaps, the competition is likely to experience a few hours of intense suspense… Because there are no less than 419 kilometres of special stage, the longest distance against the clock since the start of the rally. The day's proceedings will take place over earthen tracks and sand, with a section of dunes to be crossed that represent one of the biggest challenges of this first week. Competitors will have to beware of the Camanchaca, a type of fog typical of the area, which could significantly restrict visibility in certain sections.
The loop will be the biggest challenge of the week, although the beginning of the special stage, which will travel along tracks in the middle of the hills and cacti, might appear easy. But afterwards, the strain of the kilometres covered since Mar del Plata will begin to take their toll, exactly at the time when a great number of dunes will follow one after another. The last string of dunes to be crossed, so near and yet so far from the fi nish, may well resemble a bivouac which has been transported to the middle of the desert. Thankfully for the latecomers who pitch their tents, the regulations allow vehicles to be presented until 6 pm on the rest day.
Primeira moto na pista cerca das 13h. (de Lisboa); primeiro auto cerca de duas horas depois...