Australian Andrew Houlihan is competing in his first Dakar event. Speedcafe.com is proudly one of Houlihan's sponsors and he will be filing a Dakar Daily Diary for us each day to give readers a real insight into the world's toughest event.
After a long and an incident-filled day in the dunes, Houlihan is happy with his progress in the 2021 Dakar Rally. He picked up another two places overall today and now sits 61st outright.
Today's diary entry
The word on the street from the veterans is that this is the toughest Dakar.
It's a good thing they cut 100km off today's special or many riders would not have made it.
The 350km morning liaison was a long and boring straight bitumen highway; so boring, in fact, I had trouble staying awake.
The special was full of dunes. I stopped on top a dune for a breather and to take in the 360 view; there were dunes as far as the eye could see.
How the hell am I going to get out of here?
About 10 minutes into the special, I came over a dune too slow and the front wheel sank, and over the bars I went! The fall was hard enough to set off my air vest.
I lost about 30 minutes while I got over the fall, took my gear off, deflated the vest and replaced the cartridge.
I had another off after CP2. I jumped over a dune, landed awkwardly and was just thrown off the bike.
I decided to dial it down after that and just get through the stage. I rode large sections alone which I didn't mind because I could just set my own pace.
Navigation wasn't a problem and the bike ran well.
The first six days have been tough on everyone. Everyone's a bit more relaxed tonight knowing we have a rest day tomorrow.
Our mechanic Jakob is busy replacing the clutch, chain, sprockets and the usual tyres and service on our bikes.
After what happened today, I'm happy with my placing. My focus is to just complete the rally in one piece, not get a podium.
Good news, Ashish [Raorane] popped in tonight to say hello. He spent the night in hospital after his crash for observation with concussion, but he's okay.
After our rest day is the marathon stage where we won't meet up with the support team and we camp the night without assistance.