Monday, January 3, 2011

Update on Jonah Street

American Jonah Street finished the first competitive stage (Stage 2) of the 2011 Dakar Rally earlier today. His sixth-place unofficial overall finish in the stage is right at his top-5 goal for the day. He’s also closer to previous (and defending) champions Marc Coma (Spain, KTM) and Cyril Despres (France, KTM) than he’s ever been at this point in the race. Portuguese rider Ruben Faria (KTM) won the stage—his fourth Dakar stage victory—followed by Coma and Despres. Official results are still trickling in from Dakar HQ, but here’s what Yamaha GYTR’s Jonah Street had to say about the day:

“Everything went really good today. Well, except for the start on the first liaison section. I had to turn back because the front wheel didn’t have a magnetic pickup for the odometer. I went back to my mechanic, Niles, who stuck on a magnet, and everything was fine. I didn’t lose any time.

“I finished sixth today, 3 minutes out of the lead. Cyril Despres has me by about 2 minutes, and Marc Coma has me by a minute-and-a-half or so. My goal was top-five, so I missed it by one, but that’s okay. This is the best I’ve ever done and the closest I’ve ever been to the top guys after the first race stage. Usually, those guys just hammer down so hard on Day One that I’m farther back. It’s also really good that there were some really fast sections today. If the factory bikes were a whole lot faster than my setup, we would have seen it today. That means the bikes are pretty damn close, and that’s exciting.

“Nothing too crazy happened today. I had to swerve to dodge two gigantic lizard-like things that I’d never seen before. They were right on the race course.

“My strategy is to go as fast as I can every day. You can’t talk about strategy unless you’re in the lead toward the end of the race.

“The bike is working great; it’s been flawless. In the last 22 hours, we’ve gone something like 900 kilometers of transfer/liaison sections and 200 kilometers of timed race sections, so it will be nice to get some sleep tonight. I only slept for about four hours last night. Tomorrow, we start around 5:30 a.m.

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