Dakar Rally Stage 10 Report: Walkner Leads After Wild Stage

Jean Turner | January 16, 2018

Dakar Rally Stage 10 Report: What a day it’s been in the Dakar Rally, and what a shakeup in the motorcycle results. Dakar Rally stage 10 has likely decided the outcome of the race, with Matthias Walkner reaching the finish as one of the only riders in the top 10 who did not get lost in the riverbeds of Belen. When just this morning there were less than 10 minutes separating the top six riders, and only 22 seconds between the two lead riders, Walkner now has a staggering 40-minute lead over the field.

Dakar Rally stage 10 Matthias Walkner
With a 40-minute lead now in his pocket, the Dakar Rally is now Matthias Walkner’s to lose. Photography by PhotosDakar.com/KTM

In another shocking turn of events, Yamaha lead rider Adrien Van Beveren, who had held the lead four out of the last five stages, is out of the race. The Frenchman managed to avoid the navigational error that cost the handful of racers to lose over 50 minutes, and was headed to a commanding win in Dakar Rally stage 10, but suffered a high-speed crash about three miles from the finish. Van Beveren tried to get back on the bike and ride in to the finish, but was visibly dazed, and only made it a few hundred feet before stopping. He ended up being helicoptered out with a reported broken collarbone, injured thorax and spine.

“Today we went from absolute joy to an incredible low,” said Yamaha Rally Team Director Alexandre Kowalski. “Adrien was perfectly following the plan that we have set together with our sports manager Jordi Arcarons and he was having a great stage. He lost some time in the morning but kept improving as the race went on. He was among the first riders to find the right track in the river where most of the leaders got lost, and together with the eventual stage winner Walkner they were 49 minutes ahead of the rest of the pack. The crash took place less than five km before the finish.

See the crash and the aftermath in this Dakar Rally stage 10 video (at 1:55 mark).

“We had a dream race so far and the spirit within the team was great. Unfortunately, the Dakar is such a tough event that all can change in just a few seconds. Following the first medical checks at the hospital, it seems that Adrien has suffered a broken collarbone. He will remain under close supervision and tomorrow we will have more solid info.”

Dakar Rally Stage 10 Report

The riders who got lost in the stage included Kevin Benavides, Toby Price, Antoine Meo, Stefan Svitko, Joan Barreda and Ricky Brabec. Only three riders who were inside the top 10 this morning reached the finish without incident. It was particularly devastating for Benavides, the Argentine rider who was within 22 seconds of the overall lead and riding in front of his hometown fans in Salta. He currently sits third overall, 41:23 out of the lead.

Second overall is now Joan Barreda of the Monster Energy Honda team (+39:42). Gerard Farres (third-place finisher from the 2017 Dakar Rally who avoided getting lost today) moves into fourth place ahead of Toby Price. While they all sit at a sizable disadvantage to the leader, the spread between second and fifth is still rather tight at just over 10 minutes.

“It is one of those days you want to forget,” commented Toby Price. “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. 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 good. That’s the way it is.”

Toby Price Dakar Rally Stage 10
“It’s one of those days you want to forget,” said a frustrated Toby Price. The 2016 Dakar Rally Champ lost nearly an hour today, along with six of the top-10 riders. Photography by Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

At this point, it seems it is Matthias Walkner’s race to lose, though it doesn’t seem to have changed his approach. “What a day. That was such a tough stage, not only because of the heat, but because of the navigation,” said Walkner. “I knew today how important it would be to bide my time and concentrating on fiding each waypoint successfully. Better to spend a few seconds getting things right than pushing on, wasting a lot more time after getting lost.

“When the tracks from the guys in front disappeared, I got a little worried that I had made a mistake,” Walkner continued. “But I carried on and trusted myself. It was a big relief when I saw the waypoint validated and I reached the finish.

“It’s always good to take a stage win, but never nice when one of your opponents crashes out. I hope Adrien (Van Beveren) is okay. We have a hard stage tomorrow so I’ll go about it in the same way and try not to make any mistakes.”

Dakar Rally stage 10 Andrew Short
Andrew Short picked a good day to remain focused. While a pack of the lead riders got lost for nearly an hour, Short rode to a speedy finish, carding sixth on the day–by far his best finish yet. Photography by PhotosDakar.com Husqvarna Motorcycles

American rookie rider Andrew Short was another who managed to avoid the costly mistake. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider, along with his teammate Pablo Quintanilla, had a fantastic result today. Short finished eighth in the stage, which has put him into 19th overall. Quintanilla finished second in the stage, and boosted himself back into the top 10 at ninth overall.

“It was an up and down stage for me but I am more than satisfied with the result,” Andrew Short said. “I was fast in some parts of the stage and then in others I had to slow down and pay more attention on my navigation. There were some parts of the stage that you couldn’t actually see where you were going. I rode by myself for the first part of the stage and that was good practice for me. Then in the second part, I caught the leading riders who had got lost [as they were getting back on track] and I managed to stay with them. I just kept it pinned while trying not to make mistakes. I also had a big crash at one point, but luckily it was all good and I managed to get going attain. I’m still really excited with the way things are going so far.”

Behind Short in the stage results was another American—Mark Samuels. A Dakar Rally rookie, but a seasoned Baja racer, Samuels put his skills to good use today and came up ninth in the stage, and now sits 28th overall.

Overall Results after Dakar Rally Stage 10:

  1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 4:52:26
  2. Joan Barreda (Hon) +39:42
  3. Kevin Benavides (Hon) +41:23
  4. Gerard Farres (Yam) +47:46
  5. Toby Price (KTM) +50:18
  6. Antoine Meo (KTM) +3:35
  7. Ricky Brabec (Hon) +1:21:37
  8. Stefan Svitko (KTM) +1:25:09
  9. Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +1:30:24
  10. Johnny Auber (Gas) +1:40:57
  1. Laia Sanz (KTM) +2:01:26
  1. Andrew Short (Hus) +2:41:10
  1. Mark Samuels (Hon) +5:20:02
  1. Shane Esposito (KTM) +6:18:26
  1. Bill Conger (KTM) +20:45:04

 

Jean Turner | Contributor A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.