The 2017 Dakar has now entered the latter half of its challenge. After the rest day is the annually set marathon stage where the riders must ride through two continuing stages without support from the team whatsoever. The first half of this stage took place between La Paz and Uyuni, with re-routed courses due to the unexpected hard rain. The weather has been an issue ever since the rally has entered Bolivia, effecting the rally with Stages canceled and/or re-routed.
Ricky BrabeczoomRicky Brabec Paulo GoncalveszoomPaulo Goncalves
This first stage for the latter half of the race was also changed dramatically. The organizers considered the cancelation of the 6th stage and combined parts of the 6th stage with usable parts of the originally planned 7th stage, making up a new route where hopefully it won’t be affected by the weather. The newly set Special Stage was shortened to 161km from the originally planned 322km.
The parts from stage6 was mainly sand dunes, and the parts from the original stage7 was muddy terrain due to the rain, making the newly set 7th stage a challenge with a variety of difficulties.
Monster Energy Honda Team rider Ricky Brabec was the star of this day, starting in 31st position and riding the CRF450RALLY hard, winning the stage in 2hours 2minutes 5seconds. Being only his second year in the Dakar and to win a stage is an achievement and this performance has also granted him positions in the over-all standings.
Paulo Goncalves, starting in second place, caught up with Sunderland (KTM) who had left three minutes ahead and maintained the pace to the goal line carrying the CRF450RALLY to the second place on the podium.
Joan Barreda also found a good pace and finished in 4th position, 6minutes 51seconds behind the leader. Although the stage had been shortened, Barreda was focused and concentrated in closing the time gap, rewarding him an improvement of two positions in the over-all ranking to 9th.
Scoring a respectable 6th position was Michael Metge, keeping up a good pace and putting all four Monster Energy Honda Team riders in the top six finishers.
Finishing the first half of the marathon stage, the riders are now in the bivouac in Uyuni, where they will have to deal with any problems and prepare for the next day by themselves. Any kind of support from the team is prohibited except from team mates. In fact, the team and mechanics will spend the night in a bivouac far away in Tupiza, getting ready to welcome the riders again after the latter half of the marathon stage.
The drama filled stages in Bolivia comes to an end tomorrow as the rally enters Argentina. The finish line for the second half of the marathon stage is in Salta, the home town of team mate Kevin Benavides who was not able to compete due to injury in practice, and the team will be re-united at the end of the hard marathon stage.
Joan BarredazoomJoan Barreda Michael MetgezoomMichael Metge
#9 Ricky Brabec, Stage7 1st / provisional 14th :"With more off-road than on-road, today’s first marathon stage’s route suited me better with good tracks and no trouble with the navigation. I’m glad to be safely at the finish line despite the slide out in the grass where I went swimming. These bikes are quite slippery in the mud and I’m happy to come away in one piece, healthy and ready for tomorrow."#17 Paulo Goncalves, Stage7 2nd / provisional 8th :"I pushed hard from the start and with no navigational mistakes, caught up with Sunderland at the 60km point who started ahead, and rode with him at a good pace. Thanks to the HRC engineers, the bikes running well after the first day of the marathon stage and I don’t need to work on it at all for tomorrow. The Dakar’s only just entered the latter half with many miles ahead. We will continue to ride hard and make up for the sanction that we received."#11 Joan Barreda, Stage7 4th / provisional 9th :"A minor error coursed me to take a route parallel to the main route that turned out to be slow and required more care. Other than having to ride through this route, together with Walkner, the navigation went fine and although it was a very physical stage it was a good one. Tomorrow’s the second day of the marathon stage and I might change a tire in preparation. The bike’s going well and I hope it’ll stay that way in this enduring stage."#15 Michael Metge, Stage7 6th / provisional 17th :"Considering haw physical the stage was, I think I managed the cut-short Special Stage well. In some areas the camel grass (a bushy plant in dessert areas) was thick with very soft sand and that was tough, nearly making me fall, but I managed to stay on the bike. I made a couple of navigation errors costing me some time, but all in all, it wasn’t a bad day for me."Taichi Honda
Monster Energy Honda Team Rally Project Leader :"We have now entered the second half of the challenge. All the riders have smoothly and successfully finished the first half of the marathon stage and I am very happy for the result they have achieved. Due to the bad weather in Bolivia, the longest 6th stage and also todays 7th stage together were shortened to almost half the distance, a disadvantage to our team wanting any opportunity possible to gain time on the race leading riders. This is the Dakar and the weather is uncontrollable, however, there’s still a long way to go and you never know what might happen. The team is motivated and ready to tackle the race to the end. We appreciate your support to the Monster Energy Honda Team."
Franco CaimizoomFranco Caimi
10, January 2017
STAGE 8 UYUNI - SALTA
Special: 492 km Total: 892 km
SMOOTH AND COLOURFUL DESCENT. The Dakar will leave the Altiplano for an off-road special stage in its first half, where the crossing of fords will follow the dune sectors. The race has often set up camp in Salta, but never has a special stage been contested in the region where the battle for the general classification will be played out in new canyons to be admired with a marriage of spectacular colors.
Dakar Rally 2017 - Stage 1
1 Ricky Brabec (Honda) 02:02'05
2 Paulo Goncalves (Honda) +00:01'44
3 Sam Sunderland (KTM) +00:04'43
4 Joan Barreda (Honda) +00:06'51
5 Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) +00:07'10
6 Michael Metge (Honda) +00:08'21
10 Walter Nosiglia (Honda) +00:10'39
18 Franco Caimi (Honda) +00:16'16
22 Daniel Nosiglia (Honda) +00:18'41
45 Pedro Bianchi Prata (Honda) +00:36'18
47 Simone Agazzi (Honda) +00:36'57
78 Richard Fliter (Honda) +01:09'18
Dakar Rally 2017 - Overall classification
1 Sam Sunderland (KTM) 17:28'53
2 Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 17:46'38
3 Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 17:51'09
4 Gerard Farres Guell (KTM) 17:57'29
5 Matthias Walkner (KTM) 18:03'10
6 Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) 18:07'26
8 Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 18:34'15
9 Joan Barreda (Honda) 18:43'40
12 Franco Caimi (Honda) 19:07'36
14 Ricky Brabec (Honda) 19:13'37
17 Michael Metge (Honda) 19:21'56
36 Daniel Nosiglia (Honda) 21:07'32
45 Simone Agazzi (Honda) 21:52'18
54 Walter Nosiglia (Honda) 22:42'12
56 Pedro Bianchi Prata (Honda) 23:03'37
63 Richard Fliter (Honda) 23:19'59