Reaching the rest day of Dakar is a major achievement. It signifies the first part of the race is complete, but with the rest day coming early this year and two marathon stages in the second half of the race there is still a long, long way to go.
So far 25 riders including Brit Sam Sunderland have withdrawn from the race, meaning there are 114 remaining and with at least the same attrition rate expected in week two, expect significantly less than 100 riders to get to the finish in Cordoba in Argentina on 20th January.
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Brits Lyndon Poskitt and Max Hunt continue to deliver impressive stage results with both men sitting within the top 50 and ready to do battle in week two.
At the top of the standings it’s never been more open with eight riders from four different manufacturers all in the fight to be crowned 2018 Dakar champion.
Starting with the current race leader, Honda’s Kevin Benavides is looking fast and strong. His HRC team-mate Joan Barreda has now clocked up his 21st stage win but has a habit of getting himself into trouble at crucial points.
As you would expect, KTM, the winners of the last 16 Dakar’s, are out in force despite losing the no.1 plated Sunderland. It’s a case of take your pick with Matthias Walkner, Toby Price and Antoine Meo all capable of going all the way. And you can the Husqvarna factory rider Pablo Quintanilla in to the mix too.
The surprise manufacturer that continues to run at the sharp end is Yamaha, who have not one but two riders firmly in the mix.
Adrien Van Beveren led the race early on and has won a stage, while his team-mate Xavier De Soultrait has surprised with his solid pace and consistency.
One thing for certain is that its arguably the most wide open Dakar in history and as Race Director and former five time winner Marc Coma told MCN “Right now there is no king of Dakar so all of the top guys believe they can win.”
Stage seven kicks of tomorrow with the first bike away at 4am and it’s a big one with a 302km liaison followed by a huge 425km timed Special Stage. It is also the first part of the first Marathon stage where riders do not come back to the bivouac and have to do any necessary maintenance themselves. For the Malle Moto guys like Lyndon Poskitt it doesn’t make much odds, but for the full factory riders it means they’ll have to at least change their air filter, there is no air-conditioned camper van to sleep in and no massage.
- Kevin Benavides ARG Honda +16h33m20s
- Adrien Van Beveren FRA Yamaha +1m57s
- Matthias Walkner AUT KTM +2m50s
- Xavier De Soultrait FRA Yamaha +9m24s
- Joan Barreda ESP Honda +9m33s
- Antoine Meo FRA KTM +10m42s
- Xavier De Soultrait FRA Yamaha +11m24s
- Pablo Quintanilla CHI Husqvarna +16m42s
- Gerard Farres ESP KTM +18m42s
- Stefan Svitco SVK KTM +29m11
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