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Don't place any trust in the stage maps ASO provides. They are generalized maps. The liaisons are pretty close, but not the SS.

Check out my Stage 1 overlay of their map with red line, and my CORRECT map with the blue line. The red and blue should be exactly the same, but they are not even close. Why? Because ASO doesn't want anyone to use their map to find where the course goes.

The course is supposed to be secret. The dark force is need to map the actual course. Or, use the roadbook and draw the course meter by meter as you match the roadbook to Google Earth imagery. And even that can be a challenge because you first have to find the actual start point (DSS).

One reason the Baja guys may be at somewhat of a disadvantage in a stage like this is because they will not have WRC type stage notes, that tell you how sharp EVERY SINGLE turn is. The Dakar roadbook only tells you where the intersections and serious hazards are, but little more. With WRC type course notes, you can go a lot faster because you have a better idea what's over a blind rise, or around a blind corner. It was this stage, in the opposite direction, where Robby went off and ran into a huge boulder in 2011. Knowing how sharp each corner is can cut down on those types of driving mistakes while at the same time holding a faster pace.

So, how does one get WRC type course notes for a course that's secret? You have a team of people who map the course on Google Earth based on the roadbook (that they just received today, for tomorrows stage). Once the full course is mapped, a savvy team can write pretty good course notes for every turn while "flying" the course on Google Earth. Then the navigator can use those notes to call out each turn as it comes.

Do some teams have stuff like this? YES. Does Robby Gordon or BJ Baldwin or El Martillo have it, NO. They all have been offered course mapping, but none had the budget to do it. These teams really aren't here to win. Same old thing, race for the sponsor dollars, that's it.

An explanation of the DAKAR Roadbook:

! = Hazard
!! = bigger hazard
!!! = You can die here
P = Piste = the road or trail
S squiggle = twisty road
E3 = narrow
Down arrow = down hill
Up arrow = up hill
+/-V = road or trail is hard to see
WPM = Waypoint Masked (hidden waypoint you must pass through, sort of like a Virtual Check Point, but it won't show up on the GPS until you're close to it.
SER - Tight/sharp turn

There are about 75 symbols and abbreviations like these that the navigator needs to memorize. Each competitor has their own way of marking the roadbook with colored markers, to help read it quicker and more efficiently. The first roadbook entry, at KM 138.45, basically says "watch out, the course is twisty, narrow, and goes down hill.

Here's an elevation graph of Stage 1


Welcome to OFF-ROAD LIVE! DAKAR 2014!  

It Begins at the Argentine Flag Raise Memorial

★ Official Figures ★ 431 Competitors, 174 Bikes, 40 Quads, 147 Cars 70 Trucks will be at the departure of the 2014 DAKAR OFF-ROAD LIVE!

MONSTER Mike Hosts DAKAR '14 Start LIVE! From Rosario, Argentina!
Coverage All Day Long.
The Ceremonial Start and parade of the participants will take place in the Monumento a la Bandera starting at 10:30 AM Pacific Time, 3:30 PM Local Time, the cars will start around 2:30 Pacifc Time, 7:30 PM Local Time. The DAKAR 2014 Race Starts at 11:20 PM Pacific Time Tonight, Saturday Night, January 4; 4:20 AM on Sunday the 5th, local Argentine time. 


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