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2018 Dakar Rally: Stage 5 & 6 Highlights

3 months ago | Photos: Monster Energy Honda Team, François Flamand/ DPPI, Marcelo Maragni, Eric Vargiolu, Red Bull Content Pool

A solid run for Toby Price in Stages 5 and 6 of the 2018 Dakar rally sees him move into sixth Overall.

STAGE 5

Stage 5 was the second longest of the 2018 rally. It saw riders leave the coastal town of San Juan de Marcona and enter an extremely tough special of over 100km of sand dunes that have dominated the route for the past four stages. After completing the timed section, competitors were then faced with a 508km liaison taking them to the bivouac at the city of Arequipa, Peru at over 2300m above sea-level. The stage was a dune-filled adventure, very technical with demanding navigation and high altitude to complicate matters further.

Joan Barreda played his strategic hand yesterday and it paid off handsomely. The Spanish rider from Monster Energy Honda Team pulled out all the stops and romped home with a lengthy advantage that placed him right back in the running for the Overall prize. The rider from Castellón, Spain, started from ninth position, set an infernal pace from the first control point and reached the finish line after overcoming the impressive Tanaka dunes trouble-free. Barreda finished the stage with a 14-minute and 30-second advantage over race leader Adrien Van Beveren. This marks the Spaniard’s second stage victory in this Dakar, the 21st of his career and has helped him leap to fourth overall, a mere seven minutes and 30 seconds adrift of the French leader, Van Beveren.

Joan Barreda: “I knew that today we would have to battle to make up the time as it was the final stage in the sand dunes. I went all out, at very high speeds and it went well. I was able to pull back some time and we are now back in the top ten. That keeps us practically with the same options as the first day. This is really important and I hope that we get the chance to make up even more time.”

Matthias Walkner has successfully completed Stage 5 of the 2018 Dakar Rally in second place. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider made full use of his experience on the 266km timed special to claim the runner-up spot and secure his third place in the provisional Overall standings. Antoine Meo also put in his best performance of the event to date to finish fourth. Following his third place on Day 4, Walkner had the opportunity to try and chase down the two riders starting ahead of him on the stage. At the first checkpoint, despite a small crash, Walkner was holding on to third position. By increasing his pace and not making any mistakes, the Salzburg-based rider managed to go one better and finish runner-up. This result narrows the margin at the top of the provisional standings with Walkner, placed third, now only one minute and 14 seconds from the lead.

Matthias Walkner: “That was such an exhausting day. They said the rally this year was going to be one of the toughest ever and it’s certainly the hardest Dakar so far for me. After starting third, I tried my best to chase down the guys in front – it’s always a gamble between navigating yourself and choosing your own path or just following the tracks in front and taking a bit of a risk. Today I really tried to push, but kept an eye on the road book and thankfully it all worked out okay. After five days’ riding, I am starting to feel a little sore. I had a small crash today too and hurt myself, so that didn’t help. There is still a long way to go on the rally and so far, things are going well. My bike has been perfect and my pace is certainly good enough. I just need to stay focused and hopefully Bolivia and Argentina will be good for us, too. There is only about a minute separating the top-three riders so it’s still very close.”

Toby Price continued his consistent pace, placing seventh in Stage 5. The Australian retains sixth place in the provisional Overall standings, just over 10 minutes behind the leader, Adrien van Beveren.

Toby Price: “It was all-good today. I got through the stage without too many difficulties. There was one waypoint that was tricky to find, but for most of the race I was riding side-by-side with my teammate Antoine Meo and that was really good fun. All in all, I’m happy with how things are going and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Fellow Australian Dakar Rally racer, Rodney Faggotter, placed 26th in Stage 6 and leaves himself with some work to do to if he is to beat his best performance overall at Dakar which was 14th Overall back in 2013.
First-time Dakar Rally rider, Aussie Scott Britnell, has waited a long time for this opportunity and finally gets his chance at 43 years of age aboard a Grit Adventures KTM. Britnell’s first Dakar has him sitting in 78th Overall after finishing Stage 6 in 96th position.

Provisional Results Stage 5 – 2018 Dakar Rally
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 3:19:42
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:30:08 +10:26
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 3:32:02 +12:20
4. Antoine Meo (FRA), KTM, 3:32:42 +13:00
5. Adrien van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 3:34:17 +14:35
7. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:34:42 +15:00
26. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha 

Provisional Standings after Stage 5 – 2018 Dakar Rally
1. Adrien van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 14:37:40 
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 14:38:40 +1:00
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 14:38:54 +1:14
4. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 14:45:13 +7:33
5. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 14:45:22 +7:42
6. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 14:48:19 +10:39
20. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha 

STAGE 6

With the opening one-third of Stage 6’s 313km special stage cancelled, riders started at waypoint four on the shores of Lake Titicaca for a 194km sprint over the mountains of Peru and into Bolivia. With the terrain very different to the soft sand of the Peruvian desert, riders not only had to adapt to the firmer and at times muddy conditions, but also the altitude. The highest part of the stage saw the route climb to over 4000m above sea-level.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antoine Meo won the sixth stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally. Competing in the final Peruvian stage of this year’s event, Meo put in an excellent performance to top the shortened stage by 30 seconds and arrive safely in Bolivia. Toby Price chased down his teammate, finally finishing in third. Matthias Walkner also put in a good ride, posting the eighth fastest time and finishing just  three minutes down on Meo.

Antoine Meo: “Today was a good day. I am so happy to take my first win of this year’s event – it feels great. The stage was very long and it was so cold out there. I had a great battle with Toby for the whole stage but as we neared the finish, the last 10km got really muddy and very slippery so I knew I had a chance to make up some good time. I took the risk, pushed on really hard and managed to beat him. Tomorrow we have a rest day, which will be nice and then it’s on to the second half of the rally.”

2016 Dakar winner Toby Price challenged for the win throughout today’s short two-hour timed special. Finally finishing in third, Price’s time matched exactly that posted by runner-up Kevin Benavides. With only a split-second separating the two after nearly 200km of riding, the former World Enduro Champion was happy with his pace, but disappointed to miss out on the win.

Toby Price: “Stage 6 worked out really well. We had a long morning with the extended liaison section and that was really cold to ride. The special went well, but we caught some rain from about the halfway point and it made things very slippery in places. I got third today, which I’m happy with, but I need to try and get back some time on the top guys. I’ll enjoy the rest day tomorrow and then it’s full gas next week and see what we can do.”

Monster Energy Honda Team’s Kevin Benavides is the new leader of the 2018 Dakar Rally. Making him the first rider from Argentina to lead the Dakar.
Kevin Benavides: “I am very proud because it is the first time that an Argentine rider has led the Dakar Rally. I’m very happy too, because the idea was to get as high up the rankings as possible before the rest stage, so I can not be happier. I’m a little tired, we’ve had rain, mud, fast roads. But I was fast and felt comfortable on the bike. Now we have a day to rest and prepare the second week.”

Ahead of Saturday’s Stage 7, La Paz plays host to the usual rest day, where riders finally get a sleep-in and a chance to recharge the batteries and prepare for the second week of the competition.

Provisional Results Stage 6 – 2018 Dakar Rally 
1. Antoine Meo (FRA), KTM, 1:54:10
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 1:54:40 +0:30
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 1:54:40 +0:30
4. Diego Martin Duplessis (ARG), Honda, 1:55:23 +1:13
5. Daniel Oliveras Carreras (ESP), KTM, 1:56:05 +1:55

Provisional Standings after Stage 6 – 2018 Dakar Rally
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 16:33:20 
2. Adrien van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 16:35:17 +1:57
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 16:36:10 +2:50
4. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 16:42:44 +9:24
5. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 16:42:53 +9:33
6. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 16:42:59 +9:39 
25. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha


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