Stage 10 of the 2020 Dakar Rally was set to truly test all competitors and their machines with a long 534-kilometre timed special from Haradh to the temporary overnight bivouac at Shubaytah. It didn’t pan out that way, with weather proving an unexpected risk, and in the interest of safety, the stage was cut short at kilometre 345, with riders then travelling to the marathon bivouac untimed.
Stage Nine winner, Pablo Quintanilla, would lead riders into the special, trailed by Toby Price – three minutes behind, and Joan Barreda a further three minutes back from Price.
Barreda however was on the offensive, stamping his authority on the special, soon leading Matthias Walkner and Ricky Brabec. After 223km that remained true, with standings leader Ricky Brabec closing in, and Toby Price dropping to three minutes off the leader, now behind Kevin Benavides.
When riders resumed the special after the neutralised section they had 175km left to run, with Toby Price, Joan Barreda and Pablo Quintanilla leading the way. Conditions deteriorated however, with race direction halting the stage after 345km.
The day’s results were taken from the neutralised section, with Joan Barreda provisionally the fastest rider with a time of 2h-11min-42s for the day. Ricky Brabec was second fastest, 1min-7s back, while fellow Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides was third, making for a Honda 1-2-3.
“I think I rode a very good stage, although tomorrow I will have to start from the front and open the track in the dunes. Anyway, I’m satisfied with the pace that I’ve kept. I pushed hard to reach the frontrunners Price, Quintanilla which I managed to do at kilometre 130. Then we rode together as far as the refuelling where the organization then cancelled the rest of the special. The important thing now is that Ricky has the race under control and that Nacho, me and Kevin are fine. This is great for Honda!”
“We are in the bivouac of the marathon stage and we have only two stages left. Today it was very windy, and with the sand that was rising it was hard to see well, so they decided to cancel the last part. Well, we have to go every day, there is no other plan or strategy to complete. The goal is to get to the finish line every day with the motorcycle.”
“Today was a short stage, very fast at the beginning, with very dangerous cut dunes. I took it easy at first, as a precaution, and then I began to push a bit harder. In the end, at the refuelling we were told that the second part had been cancelled for security reasons, which seems right to me. I’m happy for us, it’s been a good day for the Honda guys, with a full podium. The bikes have done few kilometres, so they are fine and do not need much attention!”
Australian Toby Price came home in fourth, trailing the lead rider by 2min-37s, and fellow KTM Factory Team rider’s Luciano Benavides and Matthias Walker were fifth and sixth.
“My day has gone well. It’s a little frustrating that the stage was cut short as I was planning on finishing a little further back to make up more time tomorrow. It is what it is and of course it was definitely the right decision to make regards safety. The good news is, the bike’s in good shape and we’re all ready for tomorrow. Unfortunately, I’ll still be starting quite near the front, so it’ll be tough to make up a lot of time on the leaders, but I’m feeling strong and looking forward to the last couple of days.”
“It was a good stage for me today – really fast, off-piste at the beginning with lots of broken dunes. There was one section with really tricky navigation, where a lot of people got lost. I did well there and got through without making too many mistakes and arrived at the refuelling in about fourth or fifth. After that, I had been looking forward to the last part of the stage through the big dunes, but with the stage cut short we didn’t get to see that. My bike is good, with no problems, so I’m ready for tomorrow.”
“It was a strange day today and quite tricky in places. The first 100 kilometres went well, navigation was ok and I made up some good time. At around kilometre 200 the wind was really strong so that made it hard to see the pistes, visibility was bad too and I ended up making a small mistake that cost me a couple of minutes. I really enjoyed the stage and it’s a shame it was shortened, but this is the race and we still have two unpredictable days to go.”
Pablo Quintanilla finished seventh, ahead of Ross Branch, Maurizio Gerini and Jose Cornejo.
Top Yamaha was Franco Caimi of the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team in 13th, with Australian Rodney Faggotter (Yamaha Motor Australia) finishing the day in 39th position provisionally, 39min-51s off the leading pace after stopping to help another rider. This was later updated to sixth, Faggotter’s best result this year.
“Alls ok mod stage relatively, I’ve stopped with Jamie McCanney to help a crashed rider. He’s going to be ok and got him in the chopper. Now stopped at end of neutral zone – it seems they’ve run out of choppers… Rest of the stage may be cancelled.”
Later sharing of his updated result:
“Sixth position yesterday! After restart I got the navigation perfect where lots of people got lost and was given time back for assisting injured rider.”
Following Stage 10 it continues to be Ricky Brabec in the lead, from Pablo Quintanilla and Joan Barreda, while Toby Price is fourth overall.
Fifth is Jose Cornejo ahead of Matthias Walkner and Luciano Benavides, with Skyler Howes eighth, Franco Caimi the top Yamaha in ninth, and Stefan Svitko 10th. Aussie Rodney Faggotter retains his 13th place in the standings.
Stage 11 of the 2020 Dakar Rally – the second leg of the marathon stage and the penultimate day of racing – will cover a total of 744 kilometres and include a timed special of 379 kilometres. Although stage 10 was shortened, riders will still need to care for their machines and tyres in order to complete the stage successfully.
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