Stefan Svitko takes his first stage win, Kevin Benavides keeps reminding us how fast he is and Yamaha replace Honda as the team having a tough time.
Stefan Svitko has been a hero in the 2016 Dakar. Since his arrival at the event in 2010 he’s turned heads with good stage times. Each year he impresses with his privateer team. 2016 looks to be the year Stefan makes a case for being on the factory KTM team. He’s now finished outside of the top ten just once in the whole event and claimed the stage win fair and square from the impressive Kevin Benavides and a Toby Price who has a lead so big he could stop for an asado and still win.
After the misery of the previous day where Paulo Goncalves was convinced his race was over before being handed a lifeline, he decided glory was still worth chasing and put the throttle to the stop. The churned up sand caused the cars that started in front of him won’t have made the day easy but he pulled himself into a fourth place result. All of this was at the expense of HRC water boy Michale Metge who’s bike received a piston that didn’t work and was forced out of the final days of the rally.
The Yamaha team had a rather difficult time in the dunes of Fiambala, with Botturi’s bike breaking. This was combined with junior rider De Soultrait’s bike blowing his engine. The two of them had tried to build one bike from the two but failed. On a better note, Van Beveren continues to impress. Helder Rodrigues is reportedly riding battered and bruised. He’s unable to push any faster than he’s currently riding and sits ten minutes back from the close battle for third place.
The Sherco team, for whom 2016 looked to be the year they put a bike in the top ten have had a terrible few stages. Firstly, star rider Joan Pedrerro crashed, suffered a small concussion and was deemed to be unsafe to ride. The bikes have also been suffering with the dreaded fuel starvation issues that have plagued so many riders in the heat of Fiambala in previous years. Duclos has dropped to 22nd overall.
- Rumour central has been quiet on day ten. Most of the fuss is still centred around the nonsense of the previous stage being cut to help HRC. That nonsense is confirmed by the 50 minute penalty to Goncalves making Benavides to the top Honda rider.
The privateers have had an interesting collection of days, where the soft and destroyed sand, high heat and challenging navigation caused carnage. They were dealt the most kind of blessings two days back but on stage ten every privateer started their race behind the top cars and trucks, in a path of sand that was eminently harder than it would’ve been.
Dutch rider Sjaak Maartens struggled with the navigation, riding in circles for hours and missing waypoints. Honda mounted Pedro Bianchi Prata had a truly difficult day. He put a hole in the radiator of his CRF, loosing all the coolant and subsequently his bike. The former BMW factory rider managed to convince Dakar legend Franco Pico to tow him all the way to the end of the day with his quad. “I crashed 20 times behind the quad, it was so hard. I’m just happy to make the finish as I can give my bike to my mechanic and sleep.”
In other news, we’re at a loss as to what has become of the lone British rider in the event, Chris Cork. After several tough days of pure grit, scraping himself through at the back of the pack, the No.116 didn’t get registered for a finish time. He was given a start time but at present we have no word on his continued participation in the event.
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