David Knight Dakar 2021

Stage 10: Neom to Al Ula

This report is brought to you from the Saudi desert by The Spirit of Motorsport TV via Billy “BikeTruck” Ward. Follow us on our social channels for daily updates and exclusive content.

Photo courtesy of @Rally_Zone

By now we are coming to understand the roller coaster nature of Dakar. It’s not over till it’s over seems to be tripping off everybody’s lips as I stand here at check point CP2 Stage 10 waiting for Knighter to arrive.

Stage 10 allows a service check point, where the riders route intersects with the service support route. It’s a very quick stop – check tires, get water, some peanuts, chocolate and fuel up the bike – then gone again, back into the cold unforgiving heart of the Arabian desert.

We’ve setup our temporary service station next to Honda and it’s not long before we see the arrival of rider #1 Brabec – last year’s winner. Of course, he draws a crowd. Shortly followed by Benavides #47 and Cornejo #4 or Cornetto as Knighter calls him! I counted nine mechanics with Honda, but only one started to attack each bike. Each rider / bike has a designated mechanic – they build up a relationship, an understanding.

Bikes checked over and a few things adjusted or lubed. Helmets off for some respite and just enough time to push some easy food into their mouths – then brap brap… they’ve gone and only a cloud of dust remains. Everything is covered in dust – faces, hair, camera lenses – it’s the nature of desert life.

Photo courtesy of @Rally_Zone

Meanwhile, our team are a little quiet. Knighter seems to be delayed. After the excitement of a 19th place in stage 9, it was slowly becoming clear that there must be a problem. He should be here by now – but he’s not. We check the Dakar app on the two bars of 3G showing. David has clearly made a navigation mistake along with several other riders including top favourite, Laia Santz.

I seem more disappointed than the mechanics and HT Rally team manager, Henk. They see this as just part of the rally. Their attitude is more positive and focus on the fact that he’s still in the race. Perhaps I was getting too excited with yesterday’s result and taking my eye off the goal – to finish Dakar.

Then at last David rocks up. He’s hot, yellow with dust and angry. There are quite a few expletives flying around but all I could pick up was something about the illegitimate son of a camel!

Both him and Laia had got lost and then were trapped behind quads and other competitors unable to find a way past in the thick desert dust. He was done and dusted (sorry) within five minutes – then gone. With some wise words from Henk into his ear as he selected 1st gear. Like the corner man in a boxing ring, Henk is the wise man – he plays a long game.

Paul Spierings #25, Salman Mohammed #71 and Walter Roelants #69 all subsequently arrived, some looking pretty weary – but Paul, with two previous Dakar’s under his belt was his usual self – positive, loud and gregarious. His pitstop was topped off with a hooligan’s wheelie down the road, much to the excitement of the locals and service team alike.

Photo courtesy of @Rally_Zone

While everyone was now looking to Honda for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd result for the stage, we get the news flash that Cornejo #4 who had crashed earlier on, was now forced to pull out of the rally, after visiting the medic tent at the bivouac.

The Dakar continues to frustrate many of us and while the fat lady may well be clearing her throat – the singing will have to wait a while longer. We pack up and b-line it back to the bivouac. Only the evening will tell where we’re up to and what tomorrow looks like. Another day at Dakar

Billy Ward reporting for The Spirit of Motorsport TV.

Team – for people to follow:

https://www.dakar.com/en/competitor/12 Xavier Soultrait #12 https://www.dakar.com/en/competitor/20 Adma Tomiczek #20 https://www.dakar.com/en/competitor/25 Paul Spierings #25 https://www.dakar.com/en/competitor/69 Walter Roelants #69 https://www.dakar.com/en/competitor/71 Salman Mohammed #71 https://www.dakar.com/en/competitor/101 Daivd Knight #101

About the reporter

Billy “Biketruck” Ward (pictured, right) is a film producer and long time friend of David Knight MBE. Billy is a true adventurer and works alongside TV presenter, actor and all-round petrol head Charley Boorman. He is now documenting Knighter’s Dakar journey first-hand for The Spirit of Motorsport TV and we plan a documentary to be released later in the year.

Follow Billy on Twitter @Biketruck

  • Dot Jonex
    10:49 PM, 13 January 2021

    Well said Billy, you are getting the hang of Rally Raid and the Dakar is the mother of them all.I cannot count up the hours I have spent waiting for my riders to arrive for service, including Knighter. I was just pleased when they arrived.

  • Peter
    11:19 PM, 13 January 2021

    Thanks for the report, nice to get your insight of the highs, lows and concerns of following competitors in the most arduous event.
    Look forward to the documentary.

  • Charlie Harris
    8:13 AM, 14 January 2021

    Fabulous thanks , Charlie Harris.

  • Mike Goggs
    8:44 AM, 14 January 2021

    Dear Mr Billy, Great report, well written.🙂

  • Susan Cannell
    1:21 PM, 14 January 2021

    Your explanations actually give me visuals as well. Well done!
    ‘ Crack On’ – all of you in David’s words.
    We are cheering for David from Canada – eh! 🇨🇦

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