Stefan Svitko takes stage 10 win – Toby Price’s lead trimmed to 23-minutes
Riders were not allowed any team support over the two-day marathon stages and had to manage repairs and maintenance themselves. The two days of hard, off-piste riding and at times, extreme heat made this a difficult balance. The first day of the marathon also saw just 12 riders complete the set distance, while for the bulk of the field the stage was called off because of extreme heat at the second control point. In effect this meant that the riders who completed the whole distance rode some 100km more than the others on Tuesday, including rally leader Toby Price.
At the end of Dakar 2016 Stage 10, Toby Price finished behind second-placed Kevin Benavides, just five-minutes 47-seconds off the leading time of stage winner Stefan Svitko.
“It was a tough day, the hardest terrain and in a straight line for more than 100km. I was almost on the limit in the hot temperatures in the sand dunes. It was difficult but we did a good pace.”
“Today was long sand dunes, a few little river beds and about 95% off track. We had to make sure we stayed on top of the road book and made no mistakes. It was very difficult at around the 30km mark, so I took my time around that spot and I think that’s where I lost some time. In the last two days I’ve probably learned more than in my last six rallies. For sure it’s built my confidence up a bit and it shows I can navigate. And yesterday showed I can navigate with a bit of speed.”
“It was a key stage today. I took it easy because my motorcycle struggled in the heat yesterday. I also focused on navigating. Two chaps came from behind and caught up with me, but I can’t complain, it was a good stage. I can ride a bit more defensively now, no need to attack to gain time like I did yesterday. I’ve got some margin, but no guarantee. Anything can happen, I’ve got to continue working. I must avoid any mistakes or missing waypoints. What’s important is to be in good shape and ready to kick it up a notch if necessary.”
Speaking about Toby Price, KTM Team Manager Alex Doringer said the Australian rider had shown over the past ten days why he had been selected to join the factory team. Doringer also commented that while the navigation in the second half of the rally had got more complicated, the first half had also not been easy.
“It was a good stage. I fell, but it was nothing serious. The course was difficult. There was lots of navigation to do. Lots of rivers swollen by the rain and quite a lot of mud, which is unusual here. The dunes were wet and loose. At the end of the day, I’m happy with the stage. The end is near. I’ve got to keep it up and stay consistent and focused, without pressure.”
Paolo Goncalves of Portugal was fourth in the stage, but after problems in Stage 9, the rally’s early leader is now a long way behind Price in the overall standings. At the end of yesterday’s drama-filled escapade, Paulo Gonçalves, alongside Team HRC sidekicks Michael Metge, Ricky Brabec and Paolo Ceci, set to work on the Honda CRF450 Rally, whose radiator had been pierced by a log. Once substituted, they were able to see that the piston, previously believed to be damaged, was in fact sound and some adjustments to the bike’s compression were all that were necessary to get the machine road-worthy.
“The day was a positive one. I started behind the trucks and the tracks weren’t good. The sand was very unstable and I had to ride very smoothly. The good thing is that I arrived without problems. I’m still in the fight for the top positions and now we will set the bike up for an attack tomorrow because in the marathon stage I repaired the bike as best I could.
“After what happened on Tuesday it will be very difficult to fight for the victory because the difference is very big. But it isn’t over yet. After the problems that I’ve had, to be here is very positive. I have to keep up a good pace every day, starting tomorrow.”
Red Bull KTM’s Antoine Meo continued to impress in his debut Dakar ride and finished seven minutes 43 seconds off the lead to be fifth overall.
“I was riding alone until the first navigation section and it wasn’t so nice to be on my own. But in the end it was good for learning the navigation and how to ride in the dunes.”
Pablo Quintanilla of Chile was close behind in sixth place despite battling tyre problems. Quintanilla and Meo are currently 4-5 in the standings as the rally goes into its final stages.
“Yesterday was a really tough day. The heat was incredible. I tried to do good navigation and not to make many mistakes and I think we had a really good stage. Today was different. I started in a good position to push and recover some time but I realised I had a problem with the rear tyre. I tried to slow it down, and to keep calm and I lost some time at the end of the stage. There was a big hole in the tyre, so it was really dangerous. I knew it might mean the end of the rally if I hit a stone, so I tried to be calm and close off the gas a little bit.”
The top Yamaha rider continues to be Helder Rodrigues who, along with fellow Yamaha WR450F rider Adrien Van Beveren, both hold down top ten positions.
“I had great pleasure riding my WR450F Rally in the dunes. Yamaha’s crew did a good job as the bike made the distance from yesterday’s marathon stage in Belén to today’s arrival in La Rioja. It was hard for me today, I completed the race with much pain due to my fall in yesterday’s stage. I will take care of this injury and rest tonight; there are a few more stages to complete and everything could happen in those last Dakar stages. I am 100 per cent focused and confident for the finish.”
Adrien Van Beveren
“The last two days were tough and exhausting! But I am glad I joined La Rioja’s bivouac with my WR450F Rally in good shape. This second week on the Dakar, the stages are mainly focused on navigation, with typical rally-raid routes, and all I wanted was to avoid mistakes and cross the finish line. I’m focused on this goal and I won’t give up until Rosario. At the same time I have the satisfaction of getting good results. I’m really enjoying Dakar so far.”
Toby Price is focussed on defending his comfortable margin in the last few stages to take the top step of the podium in Rosario.
On Thursday riders travel from La Rioja to San Juan over another 712km, which will include 431km of special sections. Although coming to the end of an incredibly strenuous 9,000km ride, they will need strength and maximum concentration to tackle more challenging terrain and navigation.
Editor’s Note: The results sheets, as seen below, throughout Dakar 2016 have not gelled with the official, very brief, reports or the team reports we receive each day. There are always discrepancies between what the official brief releases state, what the teams state, and what the timesheets say. As to which of the actual margins are correct, it is anybody’s guess. All reports have Goncalves holding down fourth overall, while the overall timesheet further below has the Honda man eighth outright…. I take what I can from the various releases I receive to produce the reports each day, as you have just read above, and try to produce some clarity out of the somewhat nonsensical information I receive from varying sources, official, or otherwise. One thing is for sure though, Price holds a significant lead of at least 23-minutes over his nearest competitor, which is Slovenian KTM rider Stefan Svitko. Third place is either Chilean Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla or Honda’s Paulo Goncalves.
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