Factory KTM rider Antoine Meo secured his second stage win of Dakar 2018 in a wet and eventful stage eight. The 33-year-old Frenchman fought hard with American Honda rider Ricky Brabec throughout the monster 498km timed special stage – eventually emerging dominant in the final run to the flag to win by 1m 08s.
He said: “The strategy was to fully attack from the start. I pushed hard and I caught De Soultrait at around 53km mark. Then I stopped to help Quintanilla, who a problem with his bike so I spent two minutes with him. I lost my rhythm but I continued to push but it was very difficult to pull a big gap. Unfortunately, the strategy I had for tomorrow is over because the stage has been cancelled. Now I don’t know what strategy to take.”
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The heavy rainfall meant that most teams would struggle to access the Tupiza bivouac, leaving Dakar organisers with a bit of a headache. Riders had just completed a marathon stage and had no team assistance last night.
With forecasts worsening, the call was made to cancel stage nine of the rally altogether with teams heading to the next bivouac in Salta, Argentina while riders could either continue the 500km from Tupiza to Salta overnight or complete the liaison tomorrow before Stage 10 gets underway on Tuesday.
While it was a close fight for the stage win, the overall standings after stage eight are, incredibly, even closer. After 27 hours 23 minutes and 2 seconds of racing, Yamaha man Adrien Van Beveren leads overall by just 22 seconds from factory Honda rider Kevin Benavides.
For Argentine Benavides, the race now heads onto home turf, in fact the next stage will start from his home town of Salta meaning he will be incredibly familiar with the WRC style tracks of the stage.
Behind Benavides and Van Beveren is the persistent threat of the factory KTM riders Matthias Walkner, Toby Price and Antoine Meo. The three men remain very much in touch and with five stages remaining following the cancelation of tomorrow’s stage nine due to adverse weather condition in Bolivia.
Heroic ride of the day goes to Joan Barreda who despite winning stage seven yesterday suffered a crash and seriously injured his knee. Rumours emerged within the bivouac last night that Honda’s no.1 man could be out of the race, but he was back on the bike this morning and despite opening the demanding stage finished 8th, 12 minutes behind Meo.
Results Stage 8
- Antoine Meo FRA KTM 5h24m01s
- Ricky Brabec USA Honda +1m 08s
- Toby Price AUS KTM +2m 45s
- Kevin Benavides ARG Honda +5m 52s
- Stefan Svitko SVK KTM +6m 46s
- Matthias Walkner AUT KTM +7m 0s
Overall results at the end of stage 8
- 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
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