Toby Price maintains outright lead and on course for victory
Toby Price (KTM) enjoyed a trouble-free penultimate stage 12 of Dakar 2016 that took riders to Villa Carlos Paz. Escorted by Antoine Meo from the start of the special, the Australian made sure he avoided any mistakes to complete the 481 kilometres of the special.
The same can’t be said for Meo, the World Enduro star has been enjoying a highly successful Dakar debut and took stage victory on Thursday, but on Friday the Frenchman went down less than 20km from the finish line. Meo had been placed third outright, but the incident cost him 38-minutes and three positions on the leaderboard.
Stage 12 victory went to Helder Rodrigues, the Portuguese rider taking the maiden stage victory for Yamaha in Dakar 2016. Rodrigues pushed his WR450F hard on Friday, in his quest to overtake Kevin Benavides for fourth outright on the leaderboard, Rodrigues seemingly saving his best for last, he now trails Benavides by a single second and is fifth in the outright standings.
“For me it was a great day. I tried to push and to fight a little bit. I had a better second week. On my first week I was sick. At the beginning of this week I took out my shoulder, but now I am okay. Today I could push. I was riding a lot, having a lot of fun, passing Toby and Meo.
“It was fine, really nice, a really nice day for me. I was riding fast and safely. For me it’s good and for Yamaha it is very good to win this day. I tried to push a bit and take the fifth place in the overall ranking. But the important thing today was to ride fast and safely”.
In the overall rankings, Toby Price (KTM) preserves his lead of more than 37-minutes over Slovenian Stefan Svitko (KTM), and 53-minutes over Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla.
Toby Price is firmly on course to be the first Australian rider to win the Dakar, embossing his name forever firmly into Dakar history.
“This was a long stage with 480 km. It was on really sharp shale-like rock. It was really sketchy, really skatey and it felt like I was riding on ice.
“We had a couple of excursions off the track a couple of times, we thought we’d whack it down and make sure that we get to the finish.
“I looked back and saw Herlder and he was on the gas. He’s in the running, but for me he’s no problem if he passed me, so I didn’t put up a fight. Once he got there, I let him through, then just continued on with my own race.
“We’re here at the finishing line and that’s the main thing. I’m not too sure, Meo is stopped on the track now. I don’t know if he had problems earlier this morning, but I caught him and he got around. He stuck with me for a bit but now he’s stopped again, so I hope there are no engine problems or bike problems for him. We’ll wait and see.
“It kind of worked in my favour a little bit too because I was running on the edge with the tyres, so maybe if we needed to something like this could work, but we got here and we played it safe, so it’s all good.
“I haven’t really looked into the history of results yet. I’ll look at that tomorrow once it’s all done. If that happens it will be a bit of history and I’ll be pretty stoked with that. See you tomorrow. Cheers”.
“There’s one stage left, right? Ah, I didn’t dream it. I don’t remember anything, just the Iritrack buzzing to call me after the fall. I know that I went to look for a way point at one moment. I’d lost time and was riding with Toby… is that right? It’s a pain in the arse.
“It was one hell of a crash. I’m hurting everywhere, my hand, my neck, my head… everything except my arse!”
“It was a complicated stage. There was mud and rain. I fell in the mud on one occasion. The last part of the special was very slippery. I slowed my pace and finished fairly calmly. It was slippery and dangerous.
“After around 430 kilometres, I saw Antoine (Meo) who had fallen. I stopped to ask him how he was. I don’t know what all that will mean for the overall ranking”.
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