The Honda factory team – Team HRC – arrive at the rest day of the Rally Dakar 2016 flying high, with Paulo Goncalves in command at the top of the general standings, ahead of the decisive second week showdown.
The sunlight in Salta on the Dakar’s day-off is somewhat deceiving given the rotten meteorological conditions that have blighted the first week. Heavy storms and torrential rain severely hampered the race organizer’s plans, who had hoped for a more trouble-free first week without the inclement weather, which led to cancellations and changes. As far as everything else went, it was business as usual in a week of full-tilt special stages, fairly painless navigation and headache-inducing Bolivian altitudes putting a damper on rider performances.
Team HRC come away from the first week in good standing with their riders well-placed in the overall standings, especially Portuguese Paulo Gonçalves, who lies in first place overall. Gonçalves has so far clinched one stage victory, a runner-up position and two third-place finishes before yesterday’s arrival in Salta. Paulo will be looking to maintain the kind of consistency and effort that have earned him the current top-spot, as the second week assault gets underway tomorrow, with the final race destination in Rosario, Argentina next weekend.
American Ricky Brabec, on his Rally Dakar debut has shone on various stages and has been hobnobbing with rally raid’s elites in various top-ten finishes. The rest day sees him currently occupying twelfth place with distinct possibilities of improving on that position over the coming stages.
Also rubbing shoulders with the big-guns in most of the special stages has been Frenchman Michael Metge, although a penalty picked up in the sixth stage drops him several positions in the overall standings. Italian Paolo Ceci gets an honours distinction for his mission of team support over the first week.
Joan Barreda’s Dakar 2016 participation came to an end following an accident in stage six, when the Spaniard took a heavy blow to the left hand. Barreda was being towed back to the bivouac by team-mate Paolo Ceci, after a breakdown earlier in the day, when the crash and subsequent injury occured, ruling him out of a stage seven start.
Excellent participation by Honda South America Rally Team’s Kevin Benavides on the Argentinean’s maiden Dakar. The rider, who hails from Salta, marked a new milestone in Argentinean motorcycling history by winning the third stage. His supercharged performances have allowed him to hold sixth place overall as the race reaches its halfway stage. Frenchman Adrien Metge, of HSA Rally Team, has turned in a more-than-satisfactory result for the team and is placed among the first twenty.
2016 January 11. Stage 8: Salta – Belén
Special sections: 393km
Change of programme
The change of terrain which marks the entry into the second part of the rally should also mark a change in programme for the drivers, who will face the first dune sections of the 2016 edition. Experts in dunes crossing will have an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and even gain an advantage. They will also notice the navigational difficulties which have been introduced this year to complicate their existence. Louds of minutes could be lost by vehicles blocked in the sand.
You can see the details of the eight stage (route and profile), here.
Provisional Standings after Stage 7
|1||Goncalves Paulo||2||POR||Team HRC||Honda||22:52'30|
|2||Price Toby||3||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+3'12|
|3||Svitko Stefan||5||SLO||Slovnaft Team||KTM||+9'24|
|4||Quintanilla Pablo||4||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+18'06|
|5||Benavides Kevin||47||ARG||Honda South America Rally Team||Honda||+21'01|
|6||Meo Antoine||49||FRA||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+21'06|
|7||Rodrigues Helder||7||POR||Yamaha Motor Europe||Yamaha||+24'44|
|8||Farres Gerard||23||SPA||Himoinsa Team||KTM||+29'57|
|9||Duclos Alain||20||FRA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+30'32|
|10||Pedrero Joan||17||SPA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+31'45|
|11||Arana Txomin||27||SPA||GOR Sport||Husqvarna||+33'56|
|12||Brabec Ricky||48||USA||Team HRC||Honda||+38'07|
|13||Botturi Alessandro||18||ITA||Yamaha Motor Europe||Yamaha||+39'37|
|14||Van Beveren Adrien||42||FRA||Yamaha Motor Europe||Yamaha||+41'52|
|15||Sanz Laia||12||SPA||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+44'36|
|16||Metge Michael||19||FRA||Team HRC||Honda||+50'26|
|19||Metge Adrien||61||FRA||Honda South America Rally Team||Honda||+1:03'26|
|62||Ceci Paolo||32||ITA||Team HRC||Honda||+4:58'04|
The greatest and toughest rally in the world, the Dakar’s history has been written in the heart of some of the world’s most stunning deserts and belongs to the world of the greatest sporting challenges of our time. Both a motor race and an orienteering challenge, the Dakar Rally pits… read more.
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