Archive for January 13th, 2009

Dakar – Out of the Andes, Into the Desert

January 13, 2009

Dakar participants spent Monday (Stage 9) and Tuesday (Stage 10) traversing sand dunes, rock-strewn high desert and shooting through valleys along fast dirt tracks. KTM motorcycles and Yamaha quads continue to set the pace.

Jordi Viladoms / Papp

Jordi Viladoms / Papp

The weather forecast for Wednesday (Stage 11) announces heavy fog on the whole route, and since the timing of the stage cannot be altered due to the crossing of the Andes and the crossing of the border between Chile and Argentina, the organizers of the Dakar have decided to cancel the special stage between Copiapo and Fiambala. The participants will travel to the Fiambala bivouac in liaison.

STAGE 9
On Monday, competitors traveled an 55-mile connection and 279-mile special stage from La Serena to Copiapo, Chile.

In the motorcycle race, Dutchman Frans Verhoeven (KTM) picked up his second stage victory of the rally, 3min09 ahead of Frenchman David Frétigné on his 450cc Yamaha, and 3min40 in front of local star, Chilean Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez (KTM). Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM) arrived in fourth.

In the ATV race, Czech Josef Machacek (Yamaha) achieved his fourth stage victory on this Dakar, arriving 39 seconds ahead of Argentine Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am) and 17min26 ahead of Frenchman Hubert Deltrieu (Polaris).

Jonah Street

Jonah Street

U.S.-based KTM rider Jonah Street was forced to withdraw from the rally at Stage 9 after injuring his wrist during Sunday’s Stage 8. Street had a stellar run going, winning Stage 5 and never slower than fifth position in the overall standings during the first eight stages.

STAGE 10
Today riders braved a 296-mile special stage and 12-mile connection route that led them out of and back into Copiapo. It was a route that had them traversing a low altitude of 2,133 feet and a high altitude of 7,874 feet.

Spanish motorcyclist Jordi Viladoms (KTM) won the stage, finishing 1hr06min ahead of Franco-Malian rider Alain Duclos (KTM) and 2hr07min ahead of Norway’s Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM). Overall rally leader Marc Coma (KTM) was seventh in today’s stage.

In quads, Argentina’s Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am) won his second stage victory on this Dakar, 28min ahead of the solid leader in the general rankings, Czech Republic’s Josef Machacek (Yamaha). Only six quads crossed the finish line as of 10pm local time.

OVERALL MOTORCYCLE STANDINGS
Coma (ESP)…KTM…43hr52min30
Fretigne (FRA)…Yamaha…+1hr24min50
Despres (FRA)…KTM…+1hr31min11
Viladoms (ESP)…KTM…+1hr56min40
Rodrigues (PRT)…KTM…+2hr05min38
Casteu (FRA)…KTM…+2hr07min45
Lopez (CHL)…KTM…+2hr22min23
Verhoeven (NLD)…KTM…+2hr25min34
Ullevalseter (NOR)…KTM…+2hr25min51
Knuiman (NLD)…KTM…+3hr04min25

Marcos Patronelli / La Calle

Marcos Patronelli / La Calle

Duclos (FRA)…KTM…+12hr44min17

OVERALL ATV STANDINGS
Machacek (CZE)…Yamaha…57hr53min17
Patronelli (ARG)…Can-Am…+2hr30min34
Sonik (POL)…Yamaha…+5hr14min46
Brazina (CZE)…Yamaha…+10hr03min14
Deltrieu (FRA)…Polaris…+11hr11min06
Kraft (FRA)…Polaris…+19hr38min50

So far, 86 motorcyclists and 11 ATV riders have withdrawn from the rally.

Myrtle Beach is Dead

January 13, 2009

To motorcycle rallies. It’s now official the city known for its May rallies that cater to all niches of the motorcycling world is shutting its doors and hanging up a c-l-o-s-e-d sign for big bike events.

mb1
In the latest of a saga that began in May 2008 (here) when Myrtle Beach officials starting looking for a way to end the rallies following a shooting over the Memorial Day holiday rally. Since then there have been lawsuits and hearings (here) and a myriad stories coming out about the possible ban.

This month the city and the area Chamber of Commerce launched a Web site detailing a long list of new laws and regulations (check ’em out here) aimed at motorcyclists and the bikes they ride in on. Mayor John Rhodes writes in a letter posted on the site:

This was a difficult decision. Myrtle Beach welcomes visitors year-round, but the giant motorcycle rallies simply grew too large. Our staff, residents and businesses strained to keep up with these huge single-focus events. It may surprise you, but our economy is much healthier with a fully diversified visitor base, instead of a concentration on one or two extremely large events.

Please know that Myrtle Beach is not anti-biker or anti-motorcycle. We want folks to come on the vehicle of their choice and enjoy all of the things Myrtle Beach has to offer. We are ending the motorcycle-related rallies because they grew too big and lasted too long. The huge rallies even kept visitors away from Myrtle Beach, and that’s not good.

Over at the custom builder Cyril Huze’s blog — where Huze has been following the MB fiasco pretty closely — the comments have been pouring fast and furious, with the overwhelming consensus being Eff Myrtle Beach. Despite the city’s claims that it’s not anti-biker most of the comments I’ve read on various Internet forums and comment sections (where there’s nothing but facts) center on the idea that if the city is going to ban rallies, it might as well kiss goodbye to all motorcycle tourism year-round.

One reader on Huze’s blog, with the tag of “Florida Biker,” says:

Let Myrtle Beach have it their way. I can promise you, in a few short years we will be reading where the city now is “Re-Opening” the “Spring Bike Fest”. Well i can assure you they will be hard pressed to get anywhere near the turn out as in the past events. The city will be looking at the budget and see a decrease in sales tax income and wonder what happend [sic].

Another from a reader named HWGTHNG:

I said this before when Myrtle Beach talked about this. Let em suffer. Bikers have no need to beg for places that want our business. Chattanooga TN opened its doors to the biker community not once but twice hosting the State and the National HOG rallys. The “Choo Choo” city is located in the middle of all of this mess and can handle the size crowd this generates.

My main thing about questioning the logic of making a sweeping move like this is the repercussions for non-motorcycling businesses. Myrtle Beach is a beautiful place and I’m sure tourism will still thrive, but from what I know about towns that host large yearly events, the local businesses often rely on those annual crowds to make their yearly nut. For some tourist destinations, small mom-and-pop operations often run in the red for most of the year right up until the returning swarms get their cash registers ringing again.

And then there are the local motorcycle shops and related stores. I can only imagine the pain they’re going to feel from the lost business. Oh well, for those affected by such things in a very real way, remember that most city council members and mayors govern for four-year terms. Voting anyone?

Honda Plans Halt to ATV, PWC Production in S.C.

January 13, 2009

Honda of South Carolina Mfg., Inc. plans to cease production of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and personal watercraft (PWC) for three months beginning in March.

Click here to learn why.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. ends its business year March 31. In 2007, Honda’s sales of ATVs in North America decreased 4.5 percent to 211,000 units.

In 2003, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford helped Honda of South Carolina Mfg. dedicate its new personal watercraft assembly plant in Timmonsville, S.C. The plant became Honda's second in Timmonsville and 12th in North America.

In 2003, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford helped Honda of South Carolina Mfg. dedicate its new personal watercraft assembly plant in Timmonsville, S.C. The plant became Honda's second in Timmonsville and 12th in North America.