With five stages of Dakar 2018 remaining official Yamaha rider Adrien Van Beveren tops the standings by a mere 22 seconds ahead of HRC rider Kevin Benavides.
Despite having raced for a total of 22 hours, 22m minutes and 3 seconds the difference between the two men is the closest ever.
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MCN caught up with the 26 year old Frenchman during the cancelled stage nine in Salta, Argentina for his thoughts on the race so far.
“It’s crazy, 22s difference after eight stages, it’s like the race starts again – every day. But it’s fun. In the end I have led for four days and this is good. The aim is to keep the same mentality because its working well.”
In a race where at least the top six riders remain in contention, Van Beveren isn’t that surprised to be fighting with Argentine, Benavides.
“I was expecting to be battling with Kevin, but also a lot of other riders. But yes it’s good to be fighting with him because we started racing Dakar at the same time. We are more or less the same age and I’ve known him a while. We have fun riding together, there is a lot of respect. It’s not like we look at one another on the stage and we want to kill each other.
"It’s more come on – lets go and we’ll ride together because the race is still really long and the difference between us can grow in the next stages. The stages coming are super difficult.”
Van Beveren knows that stage ten in particular will be difficult because Benavides lives in Salta where Stage ten starts from so will have intimate knowledge of some of the tracks they will be racing on. But he also insists the race is not only between him and the Honda man.
He said: “The KTM guys are still completely in the race, six to ten minutes is nothing in this race because when you are in the river beds you can make one mistake, miss a way point and lose that time so easily. For me I will try to keep calm. I enjoy leading because its good for me and my team, but everything is still to play for.”
Standings at the end of stage 8 – Stage 9 has been cancelled.
- Adrien Van Beveren FRA Yamaha +27h 22m 03s
- Kevin Benavides ARG Honda +22s
- Matthias Walkner AUT KTM +6m34s
- Toby Price AUS KTM +7m35s
- Joan Barreda ESP Honda +8m01s
- Antoine Meo FRA KTM +9m 56s
- Stefan Svitko SVK KTM +31m 55s
- Ricky Brabec USA Honda +31m 58s
- Gerard Farres ESP KTM +37m 59s
- Johnny Aubert FRA GasGas +1h 10m 02s
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