Van Beveren back in overall lead after second on stage
Toby Price fourth on stage – Fifth outright
Rodney Faggotter 31st on stage – 23rd outright
Van Beveren Retakes Overall Dakar Rally Lead
Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren has worked his way back into the lead of the 2018 Dakar Rally. Reaching the end of the first part of the two-day-long marathon stage without any issue, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider is now three-minutes and 14-seconds ahead of his closest rivals in the provisional overall standings.
Making full use of his good starting position of eighth on Saturday morning, Van Beveren went into attack mode early in stage seven of the event. Getting faster as the race progressed, and reducing his gap to the provisional stage leader, Honda’s Joan Barreda, Adrien brought his WR450F Rally home in second place. Starting the final leg of the event’s opening marathon stage as the second rider to start, he will try to keep his momentum going during stage eight of the rally.
Saturday’s 425km timed special was the second longest of the event, only tomorrow’s (Sunday) is longer at 498km. Both days make up the first of the marathon stages for the bikes where riders are allowed no assistance from their teams during the overnight stop. It is imperative that the competitors look after both their bikes and themselves on these stages as even a minor crash could result in significant problems.
Starting second, Toby Price soon caught up the three-minute deficit to team-mate Antoine Meo. The pair rode together for the remainder of the stage and both put in good times. Price’s performance was enough to net him fourth place for the day. The Australian remains in fifth place in the provisional overall standings.
“Today has gone really well, I managed to catch Meo easily enough but then I couldn’t break away from him – we’re on the same bikes with the same top-speed so we ended up riding together. From about the 80km mark there was some tricky navigation, so we just focused on getting through without losing any time. It was so muddy out there, the first part of the stage took us straight into it, then we had some nice fast hard-pack to race over but then towards the end of the stage, things got really wet again, which can make navigation hard. It’s more important to take your time and spend a couple of minutes doing things right than get lost and waste half-an-hour. I’m generally happy with how things are going, after not being on the bike for 12 months things get a little rusty – not just your riding, but your ability to navigate well, too. I’m starting to get my rhythm back though and it feels really good.”
Antoine Meo was always going to have a difficult time as today’s special stage opener. The Frenchman increased his pace to match that of Price and together the duo enjoyed a mistake-free day.
“Conditions were hard out there today. It was really tricky and difficult to find the way. Toby caught me quite early on and we rode together for the rest of the stage. Towards the end it was raining and the ground was really muddy, this is really good for us so we pushed as hard as we could and managed to make up a little time. My bike is ok for tonight, but we will need to work a little on Toby’s as he came off a couple of times today. Tomorrow is the longest special of the event, so we’ll need to try and get some good rest for that.”
Matthias Walkner had a challenging day, the horrendous conditions combined with the altitude made the day exhausting for the Austrian. Nevertheless, Walkner was able to push on and posted the eighth fastest time for the day. Walkner is fourth outright, the currently top placed KTM rider, five-minutes ahead of Toby Price.
“Not the best day for me today, conditions were terrible straight from the start. It was raining, very slippery, and difficult to get into a good rhythm. As the stage went on, I was able to maintain a consistent pace and despite there being a lot of deep puddles and standing water, I didn’t make any mistakes or crash so there is very little for me to do to my bike tonight. Riding at this altitude is exhausting, I already feel tired so I’ll try to get some sleep tonight and do my best again tomorrow.”
Remaining consistent, Rodney Faggotter claimed 31st today and is currently 23rd in the provisional overall. Stage seven proved to be challenging for Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team’s Franco Caimi. Getting stuck in mud halfway through the timed special, the Argentinean rider was unable to finish the stage and will have to sit out the rest of the rally.
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Director
“For us it was a day of mixed emotions. We took back the overall lead with Adrien and that was really positive for the rest of the rally, but at the same time Franco is unable to continue and he will have to sit out the rest of the race. Adrien rode a superb stage today. He pushed hard from start to finish and without making mistakes he managed to cross the line in second position. Adrien is now leading the overall by more than three minutes. Xavier also did a great job today and he is 16 minutes behind Adrien in the overall. Xavier made a small navigational mistake today together with a few other competitors, but it was nothing major. As for Rodney, he lost some time trying to assist Franco, before going on to continue his race and reach the marathon bivouac. Rod is super consistent so far and he will remain a key part of our team for the remainder of the race. We need him to continue supporting Adrien and Xavier. Franco had some problems more than 200km before the finish of the stage. He got stuck in one of the deep puddles, got covered in mud and was unable to continue. Franco showed some great speed this year so it is a pity he will not be able to continue. The race goes on tomorrow and we will be waiting to meet our riders in the Tupiza bivouac at the end of the first marathon stage.”
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