La Carrera Panamericana Ducati Day 4 Report

October 26, 2011
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
Off-Road Editor|Articles|Articles RSS|Blog |Blog Posts |Blog RSS

Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA’s Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn’t matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

2011 La Carrera Panamericana Day 4
Tight roads, debris and livestock kept the riders on their toes throughout Day 4.

The trip thus far had been a pleasant ride through the Mexican landscape, but Day 4 proved to be a dangerous and challenging route. Instead of the long transfers endured on Day 3, auto racers were staged for a pair of timed tests almost immediately. Race officials for La Carrera Panamericana were unable to sufficiently close the public roads, however, which led to disappointment as the drivers were forced to treat them as transfer sections. One driver didn’t get the memo and sped away at race pace. The result was a head-on collision with a Toyota which sent all of the people involved to the hospital with injuries. Reports have broken bones as the worst damage in what could easily have been a deadly accident.

Roland Brown and Carlin Dunne had a bit of trouble as well aboard their Ducati Multistrada 1200 machines. Following the morning’s troubles, the afternoon roads were the most challenging to date. Ripping through extreme twisties was pure joy, but the road was covered heavily in dense shadows which made reading the terrain difficult as well as creating vast temperature changes and slippery pavement conditions. The riders also had to avoid a variety of debris and keep a wary eye on spectators and livestock which roamed freely along the road’s edge. During the third stage Brown slipped on a patch of loose dirt and high-sided. He walked away without significant injuries and will rejoin The Mexican Roadrace tomorrow on a backup bike. Dunne journeyed on to finish in Morelia.

Motorcycle USA recently spent 10 days with a similar Ducati during our 2011 Adventure Touring Shootout. Learn more about the 2011 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring and see how it performs. It would be an excellent choice for a race like the La Carrera Panamericana. Want to ride your Ducati but can’t make it to Mexico? Check out the MotoUSA Ride Guide for awesome roads in your area.

Here’s the update from Ducati:

It was a crisp, cool morning as we headed out of Querétaro towards Morelia. Both pilots put their liners in their jackets and the heated grips were again a welcome treat. After a 37 km transit stage, we arrived at the first pair of speed stages for the day only to find out they had been cancelled because the local authorities couldn’t manage to properly secure the road. These two stages would now be treated as transit stages as everyone made their way towards the daily service stop. The race organizers are serious about safety and will take precautions like this when necessary. However, the chain of events that would follow would render this decision futile.

2011 La Carrera Panamericana Day 4
2011 La Carrera Panamericana Day 4
Every night the contestants stage in beautiful
cities with warm receptions from the locals.

Over the past few days, we have quickly learned that the transit stages of the race are anything but a leisurely ride. During the time of La Carrera, it’s as if there are no driving laws, even on the transit sections that are shared by the public. Speed limits are easily exceeded by double, red lights are blown and lines on the road are treated more as a suggestion than a rule. While this makes for a high level of excitement throughout the day, it lead to a very unfortunate incident during the first cancelled speed stage. One of the cars dove across the yellow lines into a blind left turn only to crash head-on into a small Toyota sedan. Both drivers and all passengers were rushed to the hospital to be treated. Word quickly reached the service stop reminding everyone that you can’t take anything for granted at La Carrera Panamericana.

After everyone regrouped, it was time to get back on the road. We were now headed for the final three speed stages of the day, which happened to be along a stretch of road called “Mil Cumbres,” meaning “thousand peaks.” While the roads thus far have been amazing, we were told these would be some of the best of the trip. They turned out to be the most exciting, most challenging and most dangerous yet. One turn after another, the road winds through the forest casting harsh shadows across it, making it very challenging for your eyes to continuously re-adjust. If the sharp bends and dramatic shadows weren’t enough, this was by far the most obstacle-ridden section of the course yet. Livestock lined both sides of the road and while most seem oblivious to the motorcycles flying by only a few feet from them, Carlin spooked a horse in the second Mil Cumbres speed stage, causing it to gallop down the road towards Roland. Luckily, the horse made a turn off the road just as Roland encountered it. In addition to the livestock, there were fallen debris, sand, dirt and even a large tree branch that blocked the entire right lane in one spot. Both pilots made it through the first two stages without incident. Unfortunately, Roland would not fare so well in the third and final speed stage of the day.

As Roland accelerated through a turn, his rear tire lost traction across a bed of dirt causing the bike to high–side when traction was regained. Roland suffered only some minor road rash and some shoulder pain and plans to re-enter La Carrera tomorrow morning. The Ducati technicians managed to get him squared away this evening so he is set to go. Ironically, tomorrows first four speed stages go back through Mil Cumbres in the opposite direction from which they came today.

Stay tuned for more updates as we approach the finish line of La Carrera Panamericana.


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