Though a strong earthquake hit northern Chile today and caused some swaying in La Serena, about 300 miles to the south, the biggest news for Americans at the 82nd Maxxis FIM International Six Days Enduro was two-fold: One, despite two sub-par tests, Kurt Caselli (pictured above) of the U.S. World Trophy team had a better day than his rivals and climbed back to the top of the charts.
Day three's 168 miles took competitors on what was essentially an out-and-back 166 miles to the east of the city, loosely following the contours of a valley that is rich in agriculture. Much of the trail in the towering hills that comprise both sides of the valley, however, include much silt, and the terrain is much rockier than the first two days.
Caselli started off by posting the best time in the sandy "Acerbis" test next to the parc ferme (run twice each day, once on the way out and again before impounding). The next two tests saw him out of the top five for what seemed like the first time this week, but his closest competitor apparently had an even worse day. Finland's Juha Salminen fell in one test and lost nearly a minute, dropping him to third overall individual at the end of the day behind Caselli and France's Johnny Aubert.
"The tests today were, I'd say, a little more technical than yesterday, obviously, with the rocks; there were a lot more rocks today," Caselli said.
"It's been a safe but tough and legitimate, true enduro [so far]."
It's also been one where the World Trophy is a contest without the American team among the leaders. Instead, unofficial Day Three results have Italy on top by 37.81 seconds over Finland, which lost a rider today. France is third, 1:45.50 behind, while the U.S. is ninth.
In the Junior World Trophy standings, Spain holds a solid 3:21.66 over France and 9:41.80 over Australia. America's Juniors, sixth after Day Two, probably didn't change position too much, even though David Kamo crashed into a hole near the end of the day, breaking a footpeg and radiator.
Of the American teams, the Women's World Cup trio continued to shine. Though Amanda Mastin lost a bit of time due to the head bolts loosening on her YZ125, she kept it going, as did Lacy Jones. Nicole Bradford turned in the best performance for the Americans, posting the third-best Women's time behind France's Ludivine Puy and Germany's Heike Petrick. The American team finds itself 35 minutes ahead of France, while Sweden, which is down to one rider, is distant third.
"Last night we had a team meeting and they were saying that maybe we need to slow down and stuff," Bradford reported. "My philosophy - and I really think Mandy's philosophy - is you have to ride at a certain pace than you're comfortable with or you tend to make more mistakes. We're just riding our own game because anything could happen. If we slow down and have a bike go wrong, it could be worse."
As for the earthquake, more than a few felt its rolling in and around La Serena, even the riders. American Matt Bucher of the Merced Dirt Riders said, "The bike was sucking too much sand in the carb. I took the [air] filter out and when I took the filter out, I thought I was going to pass out. I started feeling really dizzy, and I'm thinking, 'What's going on?' It really was just an earthquake."
Bucher, who had to push his bike an estimated three or four miles back to the parc ferme, is an earthquake novice since there aren't many tremors in his home state of Ohio. "It was a very interesting experience being on the side of a sand hill during an earthquake," he added. "It wasn't too much fun."