Ricky Brabec has shown why he’s leading the Dakar 2020 standings, claiming the Stage Six win in the provisional results, with competitors undertaking the second-longest stage of the event with 830 km covered inclusive of a 477 kilometre special – consisting mainly of sandy tracks and dunes.
“The day was good. I didn’t really have a strategy. I wanted to catch Andrew Short who started in front of me and I did just that. I rode with him all day. It was very unfortunate for Toby because he had a wheel mishap at maybe kilometre 330. I rode to the end and now we have a rest day and I have a 20-minute lead in the general and that’s really awesome. It’s really nice knowing that. I can’t really believe it. It’s incredible. So now we are going to get some rest and recoup and refresh and get ourselves together ready for the next six days in Saudi Arabia. I’m more excited that we are here in warm weather than I am at being here for the rest day. I hate being cold. I have three layers on right now but it’s warmer and I’m liking it. Nacho’s riding really well. He’s a great team-mate and a great-camper mate. The problem with Toby is going to set him on fire next week, so we have to be careful next week. Hopefully we can stay ahead of him. I won the stage today so I have to lead out. Hopefully I can lead out well. So we will rest and put our things together and hope for a good day.”
Fellow Monster Honda Team rider Joan Barreda was second fastest, trailing Brabec by 1min-34s, while KTM’s Matthias Walkner completed the top three, 2min-45s off the leader.
“Today I am very happy after the problems I have had recently which I’ve been trying to save something from the stages and have been trying to get the good sensations back. The truth is that I felt much better today and I kept a good pace but I also tried to focus on not making any navigational errors. I tried to regulate the pace as it was very fast throughout the day. I much prefer the dunes, which is what I’m most used to. I don’t remember a race with so many days running over rocky terrain. But well we are making positive progress which is the important thing.”
“It was a very intense stage today – very long and maybe 80 percent full gas the whole way. It was tough both physically and mentally and I’m glad of the rest day tomorrow. My pace was good today, I felt comfortable and didn’t make any mistakes. With the first half of the rally done I think we are in good shape – everyone is really fast this year and it’s going to be close. The goal, as always, is to make it safely to the end, so hopefully I’ll have a good second half to the rally.”
Rounding off the top five was Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla, and Luciano Benavides.
“I’m really happy with my performance today and with my position in the standings before the rest day. The stage was really tough for the guys at the front as we knew we would be finding the line for the whole way. We were able to set a solid pace and I didn’t lose so much time, which was good. The stage was really fast with long caps between camel grass and dunes. Towards the final 50 kilometres my body was really starting to feel tired. I’m looking forward to the rest day now and then hopefully I can have a good second half to the rally.”
“The first part of the stage today was really nice – I enjoyed it a lot. My brother caught me and we were riding together for a good while. It was a tough stage, like every stage so far. It’s really good to finish fifth, which sets me up well for the next half of the rally. I’m pleased with my riding and the bike feels great – I’ve really found a good rhythm this year.”
Stage Five winner, Toby Price was just outside the top-10 in 11th sharing that his rear tyre came off – with Andrew Short providing his rear wheel to get the Australian moving again. Price ended up 16min-33s off the leading pace, while fellow Australian Rodney Faggotter has remained consistent, taking 16th.
Following Stage Six and based on the provisional results, Ricky Brabec has retained his lead in the overall rankings, while Pablo Quintanilla has taken over the runner up position, with Toby Price pushed down to third, 25min-39s of leader Brabec.
“Today’s stage started out really good, we were navigating really well from the front and was only losing small amounts of time on the riders who started behind me so I was quite happy with the way I was racing, but unfortunately around the 400km mark my rear tyre fell off! I have no idea why this would have happened but I’m super grateful that Andrew Short pulled up and gave me his wheel which allowed me to get to the finish as quick as possible so thank you again for this mate! Overall I’m pretty gutted that this is how we finished up today but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes!”
Andrew Short also put in an excellent performance on the gruelling special, pushing hard and enjoying the sandy conditions, Andrew chose to stop and assist his friend Toby Price, completing the stage in 24th position, just 35 minutes down on the day’s winner.
“It was certainly a very different day for me today. I was really fast at the beginning of the stage – I started third and was able to push right away to try and catch my teammate in front of me. Things were going really good, the sand was a lot of fun to ride. About 50 kilometres from the end I stopped to help Toby. In situations like today you have to think quickly, I figured I was an hour down already in the overall after a tough couple of stages early on, so I helped my friend. Overall, I’m happy because I rode really well today and was able to mix it with the top guys. Some rest tomorrow will be good, and then it’s all systems go for the second half of the race.”
Jose Cornejo and Joan Barreda are ranked fourth and fifth, while Rodney Faggotter currently sits 13th.
“Position 16th and up to 13th overall! Very happy with how things are going and to make it to the rest day tomorrow in good shape. Time for some sleep!”
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