Price wins again as Barreda fades

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Stage 6 – Uyuni – Uyuni  SS 542 km 181km liaison

After yesterday’s victory, KTM factory rider Toby Price repeated himself and won the longest special of the 2016 Dakar, signing its third success.

Neck and neck with the leader of the general standing Paulo Goncalves (Honda) throughout the day, the Australian made the difference over the last kilometres of the demanding Uyuni – Uyuni loop - 542 km of timed section between 3,500 and 4,600m of altitude. With today’s result, Price recovers in the overall standing to Goncalves who sees his lead reduced to 35 seconds, while Walkner is third in the overall standing  2m 50s adrift.

As Marc Coma, the five time Dakar winner and new Sports Director of the rally, had announced at the start, the Bolivian stage was one of the most demanding and in fact the day witnessed a considerable amount of withdrawals, the most notable was Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) due to a fractured wrist.

It was also a mixed day for the Honda team. Goncalves was able to maintain the lead while Joan Barreda, fourth in the general standing this morning, dropped into the back of the rankings after today’s tough race day. The Spaniard suffered several technical problems and was towed by his team mate and water boy Paolo Ceci.

It was another good day for Yamaha after yesterday’s excellent team work that saw Alessandro Botturi giving his wheel to team mate Helder Rodrigues. The Portuguese rider finished 7th (+5m 23s from stage winner Price) and Botturi 9th at +9m 19s and the are respectively 6th and 13th in the general classification.

“It’s a long way to go yet”, said stage winner Toby Price, “but I’m really happy. I led the whole stage and made the tracks. It’s the first time I have done that and I’m satisfied. It didn’t start well because around km 22 there were a couple of cows stuck in the sand. I tried to go around but one pulled in front of me and I hit it. A part form that, I’m proud of how I managed to find my way and stay on top of the road book as there were some parts of tricky navigation today.  I didn’t make any mistakes and I hope to do the same tomorrow, when – once again - I will open the track . The pace we have had in this first week has been pretty high, compared to last year. I’m happy but we need to stay focused. It’s still a long way to go to Rosario”. 

“The hardest is yet to come” confirmed Paulo Goncalves (Honda), I had a little headache because of the altitude, so it was difficult for me to keep focused. I tried to do my best and in the end I finished without problems. I’m sorry for Barreda, I don’t know exactly what happened to him, but today’s he lost an hour in the fight for the victory”.

Tomorrow the Dakar circus will cross the border again heading to colonial city of Salta in Argentina.

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Maria Guidotti

By Maria Guidotti