Welcome to the Brake Magazine rolling Dakar blog. We’re going to update this page every day for the next week, with updates on the pro riders, the rumours around the bivouac and the best privateer stories we can catch. Consider this news central.
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Stage Seven saw two of the biggest names in the event retire as KTM rookie star Antoine Meo claimed an incredible maiden stage win.
As the race heads back into Argentina and the rest day, the Bolivian soil once more took it’s toll on the racers and horrendous weather rendered the second half of the stage cancelled. KTM’s Matthias Walkner suffered a big crash resulting in a broken femur, .
Walkner has stated that the low morning sun and dust caused reduced vision. Things didn’t go well for the Austrian after the crash either, as he was flown back to Uyuni for checks and scans before being moved to a hospital where they were able operate. He was found by Paulo Goncalves and then Pablo Quintanilla. Goncalves recovered well from dealing with the incident. The Portuguese rider put the hammer down, managing to claw himself into third place on the stage and more importantly adding another two and a half minutes to his lead over his closet rival Toby Price.
Antoine Meo was the star of the day however, claiming his first Rally Raid win and doing so by a comfortable margin of almost two minutes. He was followed home by the continually impressive Kevin Benavides with fourth place going to a resurgent Michael Metge. The positive performance leave Honda in a tactically strong position with three Honda’s in the top five.
The second part of the stage was due to run on the Argentine side of the border but was closed after the first handful of riders entered the stage due to the incredible weather conditions that attacked the event. The cold, wet almost snow like precipitation caused rivers to rise dramatically rendering them un-passable. The rest of the competitors were transferred to the bivouac on a new route. It was undoubtedly a pleasant reprieve for the riders who’ve suffered three long days at high altitude and tough terrain.
The last two days dramatic events have spread out the time gaps in the GC substantially to the point where Stefan Svitko in third is ten minutes back. Pablo Quintanilla in fourth is 18 minutes behind the leader Goncalves.
- Yesterday was immensely tough for the assistance crews, with a huge 21 hour drive meaning of the crews wouldn’t arrive until the middle of the night, with many still trickling in during the early hours.
Tomorrow is the rest day meaning many riders will have their first good nights sleep in a week. For the assistance crews it’ll be another hard day with bikes being serviced from top to bottom to ensure they can survive another week without mechanical failure. For many of the Malles Moto riders it’s another rough day as they look to use the time to catch up on the repairs they may have had to bodge or leave.
After that, the race heads into what are rumoured to be three incredibly hard days, with the first sand dunes of the event. Fortunately for the racers, there has been heavy rain in the region which will make the sand dramatically easier than it could be. They will be counting their blessings.
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