Dakar Stage 8: Walkner wins stage, Brabec out, Price leads, Sunderland back in the mix
San Juan to Pisco Total 358 miles with 223 mile Special stage
If Dakar 2019 hadn’t been intense enough, stage eight of the race took the drama to a new level with the race now wide open with just two stages remaining.
The biggest shock of the day was when race leader Ricky Brabec was forced to retire from the race just 56km into the timed Special Stage. The heartbroken American ground to a halt when the engine of his Monster Energy Honda expired.
Up until that point Brabec had been the sensation of Dakar 2019 going from a top ten contender in 2018 to champion elect in 2019. It was also the second time Brabec has suffered engine failure on his Honda, he was forced to retire from the race in 2018 on stage 13.
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With the American out the battle intensified between KTM’s all star line-up of Toby Price, Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland, with Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla also firmly in the mix.
After a day of intense fighting it was Walkner who came out on top ahead of Quintanilla, Price and Sunderland.
Walkner said: “Good day for me today, I really tried to push all day long. Starting with the cars was not so bad this morning, a couple caught me on the fast pistes, but I passed them back again when we hit the dunes. I got to the refuelling and saw that Toby had made some time so I knew I had to really go for it in the sand. I had a couple of small crashes in the fesh-fesh, it was really foggy and a lot of the time you couldn’t really see too well ahead of you. I was happy with my riding today and everything is going well so we’ll see what the next two days bring.”
It was also a brilliant day for Brit, Sam Sunderland who after an epic performance on stage seven fought his way further in to contention. The KTM man now hold fourth overall 6m 38s off the lead and is well placed for what could be a decisive stage tomorrow.
He said: “I’m happy with my riding today but it’s been a tough one and I’m not sure if an issue at the start will cost me some time. My Iritrack wasn’t working and I had to get that fixed before I set off. It meant I was behind a car at the beginning of the stage and the dust from that combined with the fog made things very tricky. After that I just pushed on as best I could to the end. Day eight is ticked off now, but I’m sure there’s plenty more excitement to come.”
Stage nine of the race will see competitors have to complete a significant 194 mile timed Special Stage.
Stage 8 results
1 Matthias Walkner KTM 3h 55m 25s
2 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna + 45s
3 Toby Price KTM + 1m 13s
4 Sam Sunderland KTM + 6m 21s
5 Andrew Short Husqvarna + 9m 51s
6 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 11m 48s
1 Toby Price KTM 28h 35m 08s
2 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna + 1m 03s
3 Matthias Walkner KTM + 6m 35s
4 Sam Sunderland KTM + 6m 38s
5 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 9m 54s
6 Kevin Benavides Honda + 21m 41s