Dakar Rally Stage 6 Report: Benavides New Leader, Short Crashes

Jean Turner | January 11, 2018

Dakar Rally Stage 6 Report: Harsh weather caused the special to be shortened on Dakar Rally stage 6. Rather than start in Arequipa, riders headed into the timed section at waypoint four on the shores of Lake Titicaca for a 120-mile sprint over the mountains of Peru and into Bolivia. Red Bull KTM rider Antoine Meo nabbed his first stage win of the rally, moving up a spot in the standings to sixth. Finishing Dakar Rally stage 6 only 30 seconds behind him was Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides, who has taken over the lead as the racers now head into a rest day.

Dakar Rally stage 6 Kevin Benavides
Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides is the new leader after Dakar Rally stage 6. Riders are now in Bolivia and looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. Photography by Rallyzone Edoardo Bauer/HRC

“I am very proud because it is the first time that an Argentine rider has led the Dakar Rally,” Benavides said of becoming the new leader. “I’m very happy too because the idea was to get as high up the rankings as possible before the rest stage, so I cannot be happier.”

It was a rough day for the rest of the Honda squad, however, as extreme weather, fatigue and altitude are taking their toll on riders. American rider Ricky Brabec described it as the most difficult day yet.

Dakar Rally Stage 6 Report

“Today was worse than yesterday,” Brabec said. “We were lucky we got three and a half hours sleep. Yesterday was a long day, not with the stages, but with the liaisons and modifications, getting back to the bivouac late and going to bed late. Getting up at three in the morning Bolivia time so it was really two in the morning. It was the hardest day so far. It wasn’t even hard riding but it was mentally fatiguing.

Brabec finished the relatively short and very fast Dakar Rally stage 6 in 19th place, 6:16 off the pace of the leader, which left the Honda rider scratching his head. Today’s finish has also dropped him outside the top 10 overall, back to 11th, 30:34 out of the lead.

“The stage was fast,” Brabec described. “I don’t know how we lost time in the stage. It’s weird. I didn’t have any problems in the stage. I hit the water really hard and hit my face on the dashboard. I don’t know how these guys are making up time on us and that’s difficult to swallow. There’s seven more days and we’ll push.”

Toby Price managed to get himself back into the top five before the break, finishing only a split second off the pace of Benavides in Dakar Rally stage 6. Price is now less than 10 minutes from the lead with eight stages left in the rally. From the sound of it, it seem Price plans to hit the throttle with a little more aggression in the second half.

“I got third today, which I’m happy with, but I need to try and get back some time on the top guys,” said Price. “I’ll enjoy the rest day tomorrow and then it’s full-gas next week and see what we can do.”

Dakar Rally Stage 6 Report

Dakar Rally stage 6 Andrew Short
Andrew Short had a high-speed crash today, but soldiered on to finish Dakar Rally stage 6 in La Paz. He sits 22nd overall. Photography by PhotosDakar.com/Husqvarna Motorcycles

Fellow American rider Andrew Short of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team also had a long day today, struggling through the rain and mud and also suffering a high-speed get-off.

“I had my first high-speed rally crash, so I am glad to get that out of the way,” said Short. “That was a tough day for me. The terrain has changed a lot from the dunes of Peru. I struggled a little with the speed of the stage with everything coming at me so fast. It was wet out there too and the tracks turned quite muddy in places. I think I prefer that over dust though. If it had been dry things would have been even more dangerous.”

Short still sits in 22nd overall, having steadily remained just outside the top 20 in the first half of the rally. American riders Mark Samuels and Shane Esposito sit 43rd and 44th overall, each up three points from yesterday.

Racers received a hero’s welcome as they came into Bolivia today. Neither rain nor snow kept thousands of fans off the streets of La Paz where riders completed stage 6, and will now enjoy a much-needed day of rest.

Overall Results after Dakar Rally Stage 6:

Dakar Rally stage 6 results

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.