In not so total command...

Dakar 2021 | Stage 9 | Neom > Neom
January 12 th 2021 - 06:57 [GMT + 3]

For his third participation on the Dakar, Frédéric Barlerin has developed a degree of maturity and serenity. However, the 65th placed rider in the general standings also knows that the race is untameable.

Frédéric Barlerin is not quite the same. His first Dakar finished in pain and disappointment in the middle of the Peruvian desert, exhausted and fresh out of solutions to complete the fourth stage. The following year, he again experienced extreme tiredness, but found a second wind that allowed him to pursue his dream to its completion. As a result, for his third attempt, the pure amateur who always chooses to enrol in the Original by Motul category seems better equipped: “This year, there have only been two stages when I’ve finished at night, but not really late,” he observes. “I’ve got the feeling that this Dakar is harder, but I’m coping better because I’ve gained more experience, in all domains. For example, my speed helps to maintain a good pace in the morning to make sure the cars catch up with me as late as possible”. Despite all this, at the bivouac in Neom, Fred is busy with repairs that remind him that no battle is ever entirely won. “I hit a rock which bent my disk, so I didn’t have any rear brakes during half of the special. It isn’t a serious problem, but it’s the type of thing that would have put a bigger spanner in the works and plunged me into the vicious circle of struggling. So it’s a case of ‘touch wood’, as they say!” Aware of both his capacities and his limits, the French rider who sought out Saudi sponsors to finance his Dakar has clearly identified the risks of not completing this Dakar, even just four days from the finish: “I gave myself a bit of fright, so I’ll have to be careful of overdoing it. I ended up in a bumpy section and the bike started to flip out – I manage to hold on, but it was a borderline situation”. Fred is determined to maintain a pace that allows him to control his machine and is not checking the standings. Nevertheless, before he reaches Jeddah he has set himself a sporting challenge that his in keeping with his standards: “What I would really like to do is finish the rally without missing a way point, because I missed one last year. If I can do that, it will mean I’ve made progress”.

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