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Dakar 2018: Dramatic day blows race wide open

Published: 17 January 2018

Updated: 17 January 2018

Stage 10 – Salta to Belen, 424km liaison, 373km special stage 

It was a dramatic day on Dakar 2018 with former race leader Adrien Van Beveren evacuated from the stage after a heavy crash just 3KM from the end of stage ten. The 26 year old who was leading the stage, heroically tried to re-join the race after his crash, but was in too much pain with the initial prognosis being that he has broken his collarbone and damaged his thorax and spine.

Up until that point it was looking like a perfect day for Van Beveren who unlike the majority of his main rivals in the race did not made a navigational mistake. 

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Leading the way and the first to make the mistake was Argentinian Kevin Benavides who was previously second in the overall standings. He was not alone in making the mistake and was followed by KTM men Toby Price and Antoine Meo, along with his Honda team mate Joan Barreda.

For these riders it was a catastrophic error that at one point saw them 10km off the route they should have been and by the time they got back on track they had lost in the region of 50 minutes.

One rider that didn’t make the navigational error was factory KTM rider and last years runner-up Matthias Walkner. And as a result he was the big winner of the stage, taking victory by 11m 35s from factory Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla who got himself back in the race after prroblems on stage 8. Third place on the stage went to last years podium man Gerard Farres. 

In the overall standings, Walkner’s dominant victory means that he has gone from a 6m 34s deficit to a monster 39m 42s lead ahead of Honda’s Joan Barreda..

He said: “It was a really tough and long stage. After the first part, when I saw Kevin (Banavides) was six minutes in front, I said ok, we can’t go as fast all stage with this tricky navigation. So I stayed at my pace and it did not work so bad. It was really at the limit because it’s so hard to follow the course and all these small rivers, but in the end it was a really good day for me I think. When we spoke about the rankings yesterday, I was almost out of it. But this is the Dakar and every day it can change a lot. I tried to stay at my rhythm. Of course I think I can win, but there are six or seven other riders who can win it and there is still a long way to go. We’ve seen how quick it can change”.

There are however two potential issues hanging over the result. The first is that Walkner,  like the majority of the field did not register a time at Way Point 7, something that the team are adamant he did. With so many riders doing the same it is possible that it is a tracking issue rather than a navigational errors. But this is yet to be confirmed. 

The second potential issue is that Benavides and his factory Honda team spent a long time speaking with organisers ASO regarding the Road Book and the navigational error that the top riders made. At time of writing Honda said that they could protest todays stage results. 

Benavides wasn’t the only rider who had an issue with the road book, with KTM man Toby Price speaking out about the navigation today saying that Road Book was ‘a bit average’.

He said: “It’s one of those days you want to forget. A bit tough, but that's the way it is. I've just got to try and see what the rest of the week will bring now. It was a bit of a hot one and I didn’t have much fluid, so I'm a bit drained and dehydrated. The notes all seemed to say 150 km and the rio (river bed) we got into started at 150 km. We thought we'd got it right, but obviously not. I don't know... the road-book is a bit average at the moment but that’s the way it is. For us it’s pretty much done. We’ll just keep plugging away each day and see what happens. You never know, but it’s not looking too good… That’s the way it is”.

Results Stage 10

  1. Matthias Walkner        AUT                 KTM                 4h 52m 26s
  2. Pablo Quintanilla         CHI                  Husqvarna       +11m35s
  3. Gerard Farres               ESP                  KTM                 +16m 21s
  4. Oriol Mena                   ESP                  Hero                +20m 45s
  5. Ignacio Cornejo            CHI                  Honda              +23m 14s
  6. Andrew Short               USA                  Husqvarna       +24m 13s

Overall results at the end of stage 10

  1. Matthias Walkner       AUT                 KTM                 32h 21m 03s
  2. Joan Barreda               ESP                  Honda              +39m 42s
  3. Kevin Benavides          ARG                 Honda              +41m 23s
  4. Gerard Farres             ESP                  KTM                 +47m46s
  5. Toby Price                   AUS                  KTM                 +50m18s
  6. Antoine Meo               FRA                  KTM                 +1h 03m 35s

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