Dakar 2019 Stage Seven
San Juan de Marcona > San Juan de Marcona – Jan 14th
American Ricky Brabec battled back to overall leadership as the Dakar Rally arrived at its seventh stage, one day ahead of the Super-Ica which should prove to be the longest and most gruelling stage of the current edition.
Sam Sunderland though was the most impressive on Monday’s seventh stage of Dakar 2019 as the 29-year-old Briton dominated the day to catapult up the outright leaderboard from seventh all the way up to fourth.
Dakar 2019 Stage Seven Video
With a short liaison of only 64 kilometres, stage seven of the 2019 Dakar Rally was all about the 323-kilometre timed special. The day’s racing was delayed and also halted momentarily midway through, due to fog causing safety issues for the competitors. The first looped stage of the event, riders covered terrain already used in the rally close to the town of San Juan de Marcona. Traces from previous stages only made navigation tougher and with fatigue starting to play its part, it was an exhausting day for all.
Capitalising on his start position of 12th, Sam Sunderland immediately set about making time on the front runners. By waypoint three, Sunderland was ahead and despite a small error in the latter part of the stage, went on to win by close to two-minutes at the line over Honda’s José Cornejo.
Sam Sunderland – Stage P1 – Overall P4
“I’m pleased with today, it’s gone really well and it feels good to get some time back on the leaders. Obviously, yesterday I was really disappointed. I opened the stage well but lost time after damaging my rear brake. That upset my strategy a little but then today, I decided to use that frustration to my advantage and push as hard as I could right from the start. I did lose a little time right at the end when it took me a couple of minutes to find a WPC, but overall I’m happy with how I rode the stage. The guys made a few small changes to the suspension on my bike last night and I am really grateful for that. It seems to have helped because the bike felt great today. Tomorrow we start with the fastest cars and trucks, which will make things even more unpredictable again, so we’ll see how we go.”
The best rider of the Monster Energy Honda Team bunch turned out to be Nacho Cornejo, who came within a whisker of clinching his first Dakar stage win. The Chilean set a cracking pace in the first part and had no difficulty in finding one of the more critical waypoints in the special whilst others doubted and which eventual led to the day’s second quickest time. Nacho lies twelfth in the overall standings, just over an hour behind the leader.
José Ignacio Cornejo – Stage P2 – Overall P12
“Today was a good day, but the stage was tough. At first we passed over tracks made on previous days, so we had to be careful in some parts, but in general it was a very fast stage. In the second part, there was more sand and dunes and I knew that there I would be able to push harder because the first riders have lost time looking for a waypoint in the middle of the dunes. I minimized errors and I was able to maintain a good pace, so I am very happy with today’s stage. I almost got the victory, but I think it’s better not to have to open the track tomorrow.”
Third on Monday was Ricky Brabec, although the American was more than happy to retake the overall lead. Brabec was comfortable over the terrain that included dunes and was fast enough to mark the third best time of the day some 6’30” off the stage winner. Ricky now holds a 7’47” advantage over the nearest second place rival Frenchman Van Beveren.
Ricky Brabec – Stage P3 – Overall P1
“I feel good. I need the day to go well. I knew I had messed up a bit yesterday. Tomorrow is going to be hard to maintain the gap. The day was more my style like where I live. It was fun and comfortable. We were all riding together and enjoying it. Tomorrow I didn’t want to have to open. So it’s good that people finished in front of me. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.”
With Monday’s stage seven being one of the most demanding of this year’s Dakar, Adrien Van Beveren made full use of his acute navigational skills in the dunes of Peru. The first rider to find the right tracks in one of the most crucial sections of the special stage, Adrien gained time to his rivals. Earning a strong fourth place result for the day, he added yet another top five stage performance to his 2019 Dakar Rally campaign. Van Beveren also managed to move up three spots in the provisional overall standings. Currently holding the runner-up spot in the overall standings, the WR450F Rally mounted racer is less than eight minutes behind the provisional race leader with just three more stages to go.
Adrien Van Beveren – Stage P4 – Overall P2
“I’ve put it all on the line today for a good result and I’m happy I climbed a few places in the overall. I had a good day and really gave my best. I knew it would be a tricky stage in the dunes, so I decided from the start to be extra careful on my navigation. At one point I saw a big group of riders lost and searching for the waypoint. I remained calm and was the first one to find the waypoint. I thought I would be able to make up some good time there, but the other riders followed me in the right tracks. I am still in the game and the next few stages will be very important. I feel I’m on top of my game at the moment and I will continue giving it all here in Peru.”
Gaining confidence as the rally progresses, KTM’s team junior Luciano Benavides rode an excellent stage to place fifth. Having the opportunity to ride with stage-winner Sunderland helped to increase the Argentinian’s experience even further. Aiming for a top-10 result overall, Benavides is keen to maintain his impressive form to the finish.
Luciano Benavides – Stage P5 – Overall P11
“Today was good for me, I finished fifth, which is another best result for me. My rhythm right from the start was good but I didn’t take any risks because I wanted to stay safe and make it to the finish. Sam caught and passed me in the dunes so I was able to follow him for about 100 kilometres. That was really useful as I was able to watch how he rides and I believe I learned a lot from that. I start from the front row on tomorrows stage so hopefully I can stay with the others and get a good result.”
Continuing to demonstrate improved speed and consistency, Andrew Short rode most of the special stage alone. Posting the sixth fastest time for the day, the American racer is now ninth in the provisional overall standings and less than three minutes behind the rider in eighth place.
Andrew Short – Stage P6 – Overall P9
“My pace was good today. It seems that in this area of Peru the weather is a little extreme. There’s always something crazy over here and today we had some fog, a lot of wind and some parts with fesh-fesh. I rode most of the stage by myself and then towards the end I got caught by a couple of other riders. Racing alongside others, it’s much easier to know and control my pace. Overall, it was a decent day and the guys in front of me in the overall are now within seconds or minutes. It’s realistic for me to battle with the rider in front of me in the overall. I’ve made some big improvements this year with my navigation and my speed and I’m happy with that.”
Catching up with the leading group inside the special stage, Xavier de Soultrait earned a seventh-place result on today’s stage seven. Picking up a small one-minute penalty for exceeding the limit in a 30 km/h speed zone, Xavier is now 10th in the provisional overall standings. The Frenchman now his eyes set on moving higher up in the overall rankings during the remaining three days of the Dakar.
Xavier de Soultrait – Stage P7 – Overall P10
“It was a much better day for me and my speed was on point today. I was fast while also riding safely and not taking any big risks. I caught up with the leading group of riders in the special and decided to attack. Unfortunately, then I started feeling the effects of my sea sickness and was unable to give 100%. I took some more pills and I feel better now. Tomorrow we will have a different stage, with bikes, cars and trucks starting together in large groups. The stage will again be in the dunes so navigation will be the crucial factor.”
Still suffering with his injury, Toby Price battles on. Eighth place on the day’s stage, and making up time on a number of his closest rivals, the Australian successfully defended his third place in the provisional overall standings. Determined to make the finish, Price will keep on fighting for a top result.
Toby Price – Stage P8 – Overall P3
“The day has gone well, it ended up with a lot of us riding in a group today. We did get lost at one point and lose a few minutes but all-in-all things are going ok. Obviously, my wrist is still giving me some pain, but we’re past the point of no return now – there’s no stopping. I’m still sitting in third overall with just a few stages left so I’ll continue taking each day as it comes and keep on fighting.”
Slovenian KTM rider Stefan Svitko continues to impress. The 36-year-old was ninth on Monday’s stage and is currently eighth outright.
Matthias Walkner rode a solid stage seven. The third rider away from the start this morning, he navigated perfectly through the well-used route, ultimately catching a group of riders ahead of him. Successfully completing the day in 10th place, Matthias will enjoy an advantageous start position for tomorrows ‘Super Ica’ stage eight.
Matthias Walkner – Stage P10 – Overall P7
“Things started off well today, up to around kilometre-200 my pace was strong. I caught up with the guys in front after that and we got a little lost trying to find one of the waypoints. Towards the end of the stage I had quite a big crash but was luckily able to get straight back on. It’s been a tough day, but I’ve done my best and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Kevin Benavides started the day behind Quintanilla and, after catching him up on the track, continued until he experienced some trouble finding an awkwar dwaypoint. The Argentine rider arrived amid the main group posting twelfth best time and is now sixth in the provisional rankings.
Kevin Benavides – Stage P12 – Overall P6
Today was the most difficult stage of this Dakar in terms of navigation. I came out in second position and caught Quintanilla, and between the two of us we opened most of the stage. But at the end of the special, in the dunes, many pilots arrived from behind and between us and it was hard for us to find a waypoint, where we lost several minutes. In the final few kilometres there was fesh-fesh, dust and a lot of wind and it was quite dangerous. I have finished twelfth but it is fine for tomorrow to leave behind. We will see how the stage goes, with the cars and trucks ahead; If there is a lot of fesh-fesh, it will be difficult to overtake.”
The first rider to start the special stage, Pablo Quintanilla lost time trying to locate a number of waypoints. Posting the 14th best time for the day, the Chilean rally star is now less than 10 minutes behind the provisional overall leader.
Pablo Quintanilla – Stage P14 – Overall P5
“It was a very complicated stage and there were a few moments where we struggled to spot some waypoints. For me it seemed like a never-ending stage. I knew from the start that it would be hard for me to get a good stage result today, considering I was the first rider to start in the morning. It is what it is and I’m looking ahead to the coming stages. Tomorrow I will have a much better starting position from the second wave of riders. Everything is still open in the overall standings and my goal remains to battle for the win. It’s all to play for until the last day and the last few kilometres. I will continue giving my all until we reach the finish in Lima.”
Maintaining her excellent run of form, despite not feeling 100 percent comfortable on the rough stage, Laia Sanz placed 22nd fastest. The multiple world champion continues to sit just outside the top 15 in the overall standings in 16th place and is keen to improve on that position as the rally comes to a close.
Laia Sanz – Stage P22 – Overall P16
“It was a tough day for me today, I didn’t feel strong so didn’t want to push too hard. We were crossing traces from previous days a lot and I don’t enjoy that so much, I prefer to navigate my way through the stage. I arrived safely at the finish with no crashes, which is important. I am hoping that tomorrow I will feel comfortable to push again and improve my result.”
Tuesday’s stage eight of the rally, the ‘Super Ica’ will see the top 10 bikes, cars and the top five trucks set off in their finishing order from the previous day. As the fastest competitor from all classes, Sam Sunderland will have the task of opening the track. The total distance travelled for the day will be 575 kilometres, 360 of which timed special.
2019 Dakar Rally
Provisional Results Stage Seven
- SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM 03:51’41
- CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Honda +01’51
- BRABEC Ricky USA Honda +06’30
- VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha +09’40
- BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM +11’19
- SHORT Andrew USA Husqvarna +11’29
- DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha +13’12
- PRICE Toby AUS KTM +14’19
- SVITKO Stefan SLO KTM +16’21
- WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM +16’38
2019 Dakar Rally Outright Standings after Stage Seven
- BRABEC Ricky USA Monster Energy Honda 24:48’02
- VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Official Team +07’47
- PRICE Toby AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory +08’28
- SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory +09’58
- QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Rockstar Husqvarna Factory +09’59
- BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda +16’15
- WALKNER Matthias AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory +16’16
- SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team KTM +37’09
- SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Husqvarna Factory +39’17
- DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha Official Team +40’08
Dakar 2019 Stage Seven
San Juan de Marcona > San Juan de Marcona – Jan 14th