Toby Price has won the penultimate stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally. His victory ensures he maintains his third-place position in the provisional overall standings, just over five minutes behind the runner-up. Third on Friday’s stage, Antoine Meo moves up to fourth overall. Matthias Walkner, who rode to a safe fourth place today, retains his lead in the overall rankings.
The longest of the rally, stage 13 proved a real test for the competitors. Comprising 483km of liaison with a two-part 424km timed special, the day required supreme endurance from the riders in order to get to the finish both quickly and safely. With the route including a difficult mixture of terrain, riders had to decide whether to push or play it safe.
One rider who had little choice but to push was Toby Price. After losing time on stage 10 through a navigation error, Price had to take every opportunity he could to make up time on the leaders. With today’s win, Price closes in on second-placed Kevin Benavides, but still trails his team-mate and leader of the rally Matthias Walkner by over 27 minutes with one stage remaining.
“That was a great stage, I was leading from the front and it was really good fun. The tracks were fast, and rough in places so I pushed on as much as I could in those sections. Navigation wasn’t too difficult today, I made a couple of mistakes along the way but nothing huge. There were a lot of speed zones so you had to be careful not to overdo it there, but I did what I set out to do and won the stage. It would have been nice to take a little bit more time off Kevin (Benavides) in front, but there’s still one day left. If you’d told me six weeks ago I’d be here fighting for the podium I would have laughed at you. I’m really happy with how things have gone so far and I’ll see what I can do tomorrow.”
After leading the stage early on, Antoine Meo was in a close battle for the runner-up position for the rest of the stage. Finally crossing the line in third place, Meo was pleased with his result. The Frenchman now moves up to fourth in the provisional standings, 50 minutes down on the leader.
“Today’s stage was good fun. I tried everything I could to catch Toby, but he was on the gas today. The last part of the stage was really fast and I eased off a little because a mistake there could have been very scary. I’m happy with how the day went, the result moves me up to fourth in the standings and that is what I was aiming for today. Now we just have one more day to ride so I’ll do my best and hopefully get a good, safe finish.”
Matthias Walkner continues to ride in the style that has placed him in a commanding lead at the top of the standings – fast, consistent and with the minimum of mistakes. Walkner’s performance throughout the rally has been superb. Taking his time and concentrating on navigation, his fourth-place result from today sees the Austrian go into Saturday’s final stage with a 22-minute lead over second placed Benavides. The former MX3 World Champion is now within sight of his first Dakar win.
“That was a really long day today. The guys at the front are pushing really hard and I’m feeling a little nervous so my aim is just to take things steady and get to the line safely. It was a really fast stage and just a small mistake could cause a big crash. I have got a 20-minute gap over the guys behind but even that amount of time can disappear easily if you get lost or have a problem with the bike. Tomorrow we still have 120km to race and anything can happen. I’ll start thinking about the win when I eventually cross the finish line tomorrow.”
Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides is a stone’s throw away from a final overall podium. It was a tough slog on Friday with the Argentinean rider giving the race his all, and eventually going on to post second place, two minutes behind the winner of the special, Toby Price.
Benavides performed well to keep his rivals in check and to cut down the difference that separates him from the leader by nine minutes.
“Today I rode a good stage, which was hard but where I had a lot of fun on the sand tracks. I had a minor fall but I pushed hard and was able to take some time back the leader. Tomorrow I will go out and try to ride an intelligent race. We are going to try to take it carefully because there are several dangers and you can’t mess around.”
Rod Faggotter Closer To The Top 15
Putting in yet another consistent stage performance in South America, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider Rodney Faggotter has moved up to 16th in the 2018 Dakar Rally’s provisional overall standings. With just one stage still to be contested, the experienced Aussie racer is now looking to wrap up this extremely demanding event on a positive note.
One of the most consistent racers in this year’s Dakar Rally, Rodney has only once failed to finish inside the top 30 in the 11 stages contested so far in South America. On Friday, the WR450F Rally powered rider enjoyed a steady performance that helped him reach the end of stage 13 in 21st position.
Currently placed 16th in the overall standings, Rod is 46 minutes behind the rider in front of him. Looking forward to tomorrow’s final stage, the Yamaha Racing competitor will do his best to wrap up the event inside the top 15.
“It’s been a very long day with more than 14 hours on the bike. There were two separate timed specials with a long ride section in between. I started quite steady in the first part. There were some sections with deep sand and just tried to remain fast without making mistakes. Then the second timed special was pretty fast. We were going 150km/h so we all had to stay focused on the road ahead and keep it on two wheels. Overall, it’s been a good day for me and I’ve managed to move up a couple of spots in the overall. I’m 16th overall now and I’m looking forward to bringing it home tomorrow.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Rally Team
“It’s been a long and demanding day for all, but it brought us one step closer to our goal. We woke up at 4:30am this morning and Rodney took the start of the stage a few minutes before 6am. We are all in the last bivouac of the race in Córdoba. Our mechanics will make the final checks on Rod’s WR450F Rally machine so that everything will be all-right for the last stage tomorrow. Rod has been doing a great job so far making us all proud with his progress in this rally. He’s one of the most consistent racers and tomorrow he will give his best for a top 15 finish. To see him cross the finish line tomorrow will be a good reward for all our hard work during these last two weeks. We’ll be waiting for him at the finish line to celebrate this special moment with all the members of the Yamaha squad.”
Stage 13 – 2018 Dakar Rally
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 04:48:33
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 04:50:36, +02:03
3. Antoine Meo (FRA), KTM, 04:51:17, +02:44
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 05:00:05, +11:44
5. Joan Pedrero (ESP), Sherco, 05:03:45, +15:12
6. Johnny Aubert (FRA), Gas Gas, 05:04:43, +16:10
21. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 05:30:27, _41:54
Saturday’s stage 14 marks the end of the 2018 Dakar Rally. Although short at only 286km in total, the stage will still prove difficult for competitors. With a technical timed special crossing approximately 30 rivers on route, the stage could still turn in a few surprises for the top runners. Riders will have to focus right till the finish line if they are to successfully complete this 40th edition of the rally.
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