I couldn’t wish to be in a better place right now. After arriving in Teresina we headed into a churesqueria, a typical kind of Brazilian restaurant, for a bite to eat. It feels good to get some cooked food after covering about 600km out there today.
The timed special stage wasn’t actually that long today but afterwards we had over 300km of the liaison route to cover. During a long liaison like today I just disconnect from race mode and switch off for a while. This morning, I made sure I remembered to put my iPod in my jacket so I could put on a few tunes while I rode towards Teresina. It’s was good mix, a bit of Tracy Chapman, some Corsican music I’m into at the moment, David Guetta was in there and also a French singer called Zaz.
Also on the liaison stage I get the chance to think about my bike and my set-up, thinking about any changes I’d like to make. I was thinking today that I’m going to have to do something about making my jacket lighter before heading off to the Australasian Safari next month. At other times, I like to think about my family and also take in some of the landscape around me. Obviously my mind is only on these other things during the liaison stage, during the timed part of the day there’s nothing else in my head apart from the race.
Now the stage is over I’m with Felipe Zanol from Brazil Moto Tour who is still under two minutes behind me in the overall standings. Also at the dinner table is my KTM team-mate Joan Pedrero. On the stage we’re all fighting each other but after the day’s racing is done we’re all friends. One Frenchman, one Brazilian and one Spaniard altogether for dinner, it’s like a mix on the iPod!
Again there was only a small gap between Zanol and myself, just seven seconds today. It’s really incredible that our times are always so close at the end of each day. I never had a race like this in my entire career. I was speaking with our KTM team manager Stefan Huber last night and he was also saying that it was just crazy that Felipe and my times are nearly the same everyday. I’m managing to get some distance between the third and fourth placed riders and myself but I just can’t shake off Felipe.
Being involved in such a tight battle going into the last two days of the race has to help me with my preparations for the Dakar. During this race it has not been a matter of being worried about dropping a minute of time but rather trying to make every single second count. So far I’ve managed to avoid any big mistakes and I hope that things will carry on this way on the final two stages of this race.