Like magic, the trio of Red Bull KTM factory racers rose to the top in the overall standing of the 2019 Dakar Rally just in time for the checkered flag. Toby Price, Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland (whose one-hour penalty was overturned) make up the overall podium in the motorcycle category.
Toby Price, the Australian rider who has been battling the pain of a broken wrist throughout the 2019 Dakar Rally, hadn’t won a stage up until today when he charged to the finish of the 70-mile (112 km) final special on Stage 10.
“It’s very crazy to sit here and say that we won the Dakar rally with no stage victories until today,” said Price. “It’s really crazy. I’m over the moon, I’m so damned stoked. It’s been a long 10 days. Now I’ll just wait and see what damage I’ve done to my wrist.
“At the end of the day, the pain and torture has been worth it. I was only going to do two stages and then pull out and that’ll be me done, but the support from everyone back home in Australia and then I just had some things go my way and a bit of luck, it just worked out in the end. It’s been an unreal rally.”
It’s been a hard fight for Price throughout the 11-day rally, not only against the competitors and the terrain, but against the ever increasing pain in his wrist. Price broke his right scaphoid (a wrist bone known for its lengthy healing time) only weeks before the start of the 2019 Dakar Rally. Price underwent surgery and a screw was placed in the bone, but it was far from healed at the start of the rally.
“Pretty much all I can say is that it feels like there are about five people driving a knife in my wrist now,” said Price. “But at the end of the day the victory has paid off. I’ll forget about the pain now, that’s for sure. The win takes away all the pain. For sure, if it wasn’t for this victory it wouldn’t have been as sweet, but at the end of the day I’m happy to make the finish line. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do that.”
Defending Dakar Champion Matthias Walkner finished second overall after finishing third on the day, followed by his teammate and 2017 Dakar Champion Sam Sunderland. After Stage 8, Sunderland received a one-hour penalty for allegedly tampering with the Iritrack on his motorcycle, but KTM appealed the decision, and it was determined by the jury that there was not sufficient evidence to uphold the penalty. Sunderland was giving his time back, which elevated him to third overall at the finish.
In the end, it was a remarkable Red Bull KTM podium sweep, making the 18th win in a row for the Austrian firm. The team had the long game in mind from the start, and its riders did not have many stage wins throughout the 2019 Dakar Rally. But the trio effectively rose to the top when it counted, on the final day.
The rider Price needed to beat was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla; the Chilean trailed him by one minute in the standings heading into the final special. Unfortunately for Quintanilla, he suffered a crash and in injury to his foot that saw him drop 20 minutes, leaving him to finish 22nd on the day, and missing the overall podium.
Quintanilla’s Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Andrew Short rounded out the top five in the overall, a significant improvement over last year’s 17th-place finish. Short spent most of the rally in the tail end of the top 10, but was bumped up in the standings in the last three days of the rally when half of the top 10 suffered from mechanical issues and/or penalties.
Second place on the day went to Monster Energy Honda rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo. “Nacho” as he is called, completed the rally in seventh place, the top Honda rider, and the only member of his team in the top-10.
Honda’s top rider Kevin Benavides was slapped with a three-hour penalty for “unsporting behavior” on Stage 8, and although Honda stated in a release yesterday that “The team is currently gathering all the necessary information to present an official claim against the sanction,” no appeal has been submitted to race organizers on Benavides’ behalf.
Motorcycle Race Director Marc Ducrocq explained the penalty to Dakar Rally camera crews:
“Additional notes on the road book are forbidden. Benavides exploited a minor loophole in the regulation by putting notes on his bike. We have all the necessary proof that he put those notes on his bike. What’s more, he concealed them. We didn’t like that. He hid them at the start of the special. There were officials and technical [inspectors] present and the notes were hidden under a black band. At the start of the special he took the band off and the extra notes were there with directions and everything. We gave him a three-hour penalty for anti-sporting behavior.”
As it stands, Benavides records a 12th place finish in the 2019 Dakar Rally, dropping from a would-be fifth-place finish.
Xavier De Soultrait was the top Yamaha rider, finishing sixth on his Yamalube Yamaha factory bike. Luciano Benavides (Red Bull KTM), Oriol Mena (Hero Motorsports) and Daniel Nosiglia (MEC Honda) rounded out the top 10.
The incredible Laia Sanz nearly made the top 10, finishing 11th overall on her KTM Factory ride. Sanz had a bet going with Toby Price that if she finished in the top 15, she could cut of his mullet. Looks like the Australian will be saying goodbye to his mangy ‘do. Let’s just hope Samson doesn’t lose his strength.
American rider Garrett Poucher crossed the finish line in Lima, ending the rally in 32nd place, a commendable ride for the Klymciw Racing-backed rookie rider. Another rookie American rider, Nathan Rafferty took the checkers today, coming in 50th place overall on his BAS Dakar KTM.
A total of 75 motorcycles out of 137 starters reached the finish.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Stage 10 Final Results
- Toby Price (KTM) 33:57:16
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +09:13
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +13:34
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +20:46
- Andrew Short (Hus) +44:10
- Xavier De Soultrait (Yam) +54:00
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Hon) +01:08:16
- Luciano Benavides (KTM) +01:09:10
- Oriol Mena (Her) +02:08:41
- Daniel Nosiglia (Hon) +02:31:53
- Laia Sanz (KTM) +03:24:10
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +03:41:14
- Garrett Poucher (Hus) +12:31:26
- Nathan Rafferty (KTM) +20:47:10
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 8
After another wild stage, another handful of top riders have been knocked out of contention for the win. Yamalube Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren was among the victims of the penultimate Stage 9, with his motor giving out within view of the finish in Lima. Some dramatic events also took place in the bivouac, with race organizers handing out some stiff penalties to Sam Sunderland and Kevin Benavides. Sunderland, of the Red Bull KTM team was dinged an hour while Benavides of the Monster Energy Honda team, was penalized three hours.
According to organizers, Sunderland’s penalty came on account of an infraction to article 25P5 stating that “Any competitor that intentionally damages the security devices (GPS, Iritrack, Smalltrack, ICO) in order to get the devices repaired and obtain a new starting time will receive a penalty of 1 hour.” The rule is intended to prevent anyone from gaining an advantage from a later start time, which could allow them to gain time by not having to navigate at the front of the field.
In yesterday’s race interviews, Sunderland reported that he was stopped at the start of the Stage 8 special because his Iritrack was off. At the time, it seems Sunderland suspected there could potentially be a penalty involved. “I hope we don’t have a problem due to that,” said Sunderland, “because yesterday they said that if something is a modification and you have a problem with it… I don’t know… Anyway, the guys at the start said that the fuse was broken and the quickly fixed it and I managed to avoid staying there for long.”
Sunderland drops to eighth place in the standings, but would be fourth place, and within striking distance of the podium otherwise.
As for Benavides, the much harsher three-hour penalty came due to “unsporting behavior,” reportedly due to having additional notes in his road book.
While the Monster Energy Honda team did not reveal any specifics about the issue, Benavides took to social media to explain what happened. He stated in a video (in Spanish) his account of the matter (translated to English below):
“This is a video that I would not like to do, but I want to clarify the situation of what has happened: The jury has decided to put me three hours of penalty for carrying some notes on the bike that could be worn in the first days of the race. Then they banned making notes in the road book extra to the organization. Honda said it could be done so the team and the team managers said they could make some key notes to avoid risks.
“In the desert we risked a lot of life going very fast and it was more than anything to avoid danger and avoid getting lost.
“Yesterday (on Monday) in a neutralization, a pilot with his phone made some pictures and videos of my bike that were not hiding it. The jury said that there was no problem, but they made us sign a paper because they put a new additive in the regulation, since you could not add notes on the bike like other riders have. That additive was from yesterday (Monday) at 17.30. Today they put us a 3-hour penalty and it is something that is not fair. Today we have not taken anything and the team is fighting to defend that and we do not want to mess up the name.
“I want to thank everyone for the support, I will continue fighting until the end. These decisions that are taken at the table that have nothing to do with sports, I hope they do not affect the final result and we can fight until the end.”
Without the three-hour penalty, Benavides would be in a solid fourth-place in the standings, but the sanction puts him back to 12th. Honda stated in a press release that they plan to appeal the ruling, while Benavides continues to press forward.
“Kevin Benavides was sanctioned yesterday with a 3:00’00 penalty after race authorities deemed that the rider had violated one of the new rules established for the race. The team is currently gathering all the necessary information to present an official claim against the sanction.”
Not to be overshadowed by the drama in the pits, Michael Metge of the Sherco TVS Rally Factory team won the day with a two-minute victory over Daniel Nosiglia of the MEC HRC team, another fresh face in the top-10. For Metge, it was his first Dakar stage win, and a breakthrough moment for the French company, Sherco.
“I’m so happy for the team because we did a very good job this year,” said Metge. “It was a very long stage for me. We started in the second line with Daniel Nosiglia and we stayed together throughout the stage, attacking very much. I made some navigation mistakes, but we kept a good rhythm and in the end, we caught the first line. I was stressed at the end because victory was very closely fought, but I tried to stay focused and when I crossed the finish line, it was very nice.”
As Metge described, he and Nosiglia were in the second line of the group starts of Stage 9, allowing them a distinct advantage in the special, which was full of tricky navigation through the dunes. While Metge still sits outside the top-20 in the overall, the finish bumped Nosiglia into the top-10, the Bolivian Honda rider just ahead of KTM’s Laia Sanz in 11th.
Pablo Quintanilla finished third on the day ahead of the Red Bull KTM factory duo of Matthias Walkner and Toby Price. The overall standing now puts Price and Quintanilla in first and second, respectively, with only one minute separating them. This leaves tomorrow’s Stage 10 to a virtual winner-take-all between the two. Walkner isn’t far off in third, only 6:35 away from the lead—remarkably, the exact same gap he had yesterday.
“I’d like to finish on top,” said Price, who is still battling the pain of his broken wrist. “We’re so close; it’s so tight! I know it’s going to be very hard tomorrow and I’ll give it my best. I know I’ likely to be on the podium tomorrow, and it’s amazing. But I obviously want to win.”
Throughout the tumultuous shuffle in the last two days that has dealt away half of the top-10 riders, Andrew Short has elevated to fourth in the overall classification. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider isn’t exactly within “striking distance” of the podium, at 40 minutes off the pace with only a 70-mile (112-km) special remaining in the 2019 Dakar Rally. But the American is well positioned for a solid top-five finish. Yamaha rider Xavier De Soultrait rounds out the top-five heading into the last day.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Stage 9
- Toby Price (KTM) 32:43:15
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +01:02
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +06:35
- Andrew Short (Hus) +40:01
- Xavier de Soultrait (Yam) +47:44
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Hon) +01:05:45
- Luciano Benavides (KTM) +01:05:50
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +01:10:15
- Oriol Mena (Her) +01:52:20
- Daniel Nosiglia (Hon) +02:21:51
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 8
On Stage 8 of a 10-stage race, when the overall standings are tight and the longest special of the rally is ahead, what is the best strategy? Is it best to play it safe and stay with the group and spare the motor? Or do you pin it and brave the difficult navigation on your own? Different riders and teams clearly had different strategies for today’s “Super Ica” special—for some it paid off, and for others, it backfired. As a result, Stage 8 of the 2019 Dakar Rally saw yet another shakeup in the motorcycle category, and for the first time in the race, the ever-dominant Red Bull KTM team leads the way with Matthias Walkner topping the Super Ica special stage and Toby Price emerging the overall leader.
While the 2016 Dakar winner capitalized on the day, previous front-runners Ricky Brabec (yesterday’s leader) and Adrien Van Beveren (yesterday’s runner-up) both suffered in the 224-mile special, with Brabec now out of the race completely, and Van Beveren giving up over 11 minutes and slipping back to sixth place. Brabec’s engine let go only 56km (35 miles) into the special, leaving the Monster Energy Honda rider stranded in the desert.
“Perfect dirt—look at this—wet dirt. Perfect conditions to ride all day,” Brabec lamented. “Unfortunately I only made it 57 km. Last year, third day to the end, 52 km into the stage, same problem.
“Unreal… The rally was perfect for me. Until today. I lost power to the bike, and… I don’t know. I have no words. Dakar bites again.”
For Van Beveren and the Yamalube Yamaha Rally team, it was time to make a serious push. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, the strategy didn’t pan out. “I knew that if I didn’t attack, my chances for the win would be possibly less,” said Van Beveren. “Navigation was tricky and I lost time trying to find some waypoints. At the end of the day I lost a little bit more than 10 minutes to the leaders. It’s not exactly the result I was looking for, but we’re not done yet. My day might not have been so good, but we still have two stages to go.”
For Australian Toby Price, it was the perfect opportunity to advance to the lead. But the Red Bull KTM rider is still facing the increasingly brutal challenge of nursing his broken wrist, which he says is “on fire now.”
“Today I knew it had to count,” said Toby Price. “That was my maximum today, so any more than that, well… I can’t do any more. My wrist is on fire now. You’ve just got to somehow shut [the pain] off. There’s times when you can rest it and when you can’t, but it’s just difficult. When you throw your helmet on and you go and ride your bike, you just want to do the best you can, and try and do it all again.”
Price’s teammates Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner also took steps forward in the standings today, with Walkner collecting a pivotal victory in Stage 8.
“Until the refueling, Toby caught up a lot of time on me,” said Walkner. “But in the dunes I tried to push really hard in the morning. It was a really fast track with not really visible stones and I didn’t feel so good, but at the end I felt quite good and tried to push a lot.”
Pablo Quintanilla collected an important second-place finish in the Super Ica special stage, successfully boosting himself back into contention for the overall after losing more than 20 minutes yesterday. The Chilean rider now sits second overall, only one minute behind the injured Price in what was (another) impressive rebound for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider.
“The stage was really hard and I started behind the trucks and the cars, so there was a lot of dust when I had to pass them,” said Quintanilla. “But, I’m happy to finish the day. Now we’ll rest a little bit for tomorrow. Tomorrow is difficult because we’ll be starting with a mass start so it’s difficult to gain time, but I will keep on like this until the end.
“I’m really happy with where I’m at in the overall. The gap with Toby is small and we still have two more days of racing. I will try to stick to my plan and continue giving 100% until the end of the race.”
Tomorrow’s start for Stage 9 will see a mass start—different from the previous moto-style starts where only groups of 10 were sent off together. Riders will set out on a loop from Pisco, Peru in the penultimate stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally, another lengthy special of 194 miles (313km). With the final Stage 10 at a mere 70 miles (112km) along with the long liaison back to Lima, tomorrow’s stage has the potential to be very decisive in the overall finish.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Stage 8
- Toby Price (KTM) 28:53:08
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +01:03
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +06:35
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +06:38
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) +09:54
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +21:41
- Andrew Short (Hus) +39:27
- Xavier de Soultrait (Yam) +46:17
- Luciano Benavides (KTM) +01:04:24
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Hon) +01:05:44
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 7
Sam Sunderland dominated Stage 7 today, as riders made a 240-mile loop from San Juan de Marcona and back in the special, the Red Bull KTM rider advancing from seventh to fourth with his in the standings with his victory on the day ahead of Honda’s Ignacio Cornejo. But all eyes are on the battle between Ricky Brabec and Pablo Quintanilla for the lead point. Although Brabec finished third on the day, a full six and a half minutes out of the lead, he finished well in front of the only rider he needed to—Quintanilla.
After regaining the lead yesterday over Brabec, Quintanilla had the difficult task of opening the track in today’s stage through the dunes—what some called the most difficult navigation stage of the rally—and it ended up costing him. The Chilean rider gave up over 20 minutes by the end of the special, dropping him to fifth in the overall.
“For me, it seemed like a never-ending stage,” said Quintanilla. “I knew from the start that it would be hard for me to get a good stage result today, considering I was the first rider to start in the morning. It is what it is and I’m looking ahead to the coming stages. My goal remains to battle for the win. It’s all to play for until the last day and the last few kilometers. I will continue giving my all until we reach the finish in Lima.”
As Quintanilla has demonstrated multiple times now, he is more than capable of rebounding after a bad finish. Brabec, meanwhile, is also poised for a fight to the finish.
“I’m looking forward to the next three days,” said Brabec. “I think me and Quintanilla are going to fight back and forth until the last kilometer. [Not making a mistake] is the key every day, but it’s really difficult. Tomorrow hopefully is a little bit easier navigation than today, but you can never be too sure until you’re actually out there and navigating.”
Tomorrow, Stage 8 from San Juan de Marcona sees another moto-style group start for the motorcycles, which spares Brabec the chore of navigating alone. And if tomorrow’s special is anything like today’s, that’s an important advantage.
“It was really hard,” Matthias Walkner said of Stage 7. “In the sand, if somebody takes the wrong line, everybody gets lost. I got a little bit confused with some notes and lost a little bit of time. The last days are always very difficult. Normally, in the mass starts, not that much changes. But what is ‘normal’ in the Dakar?”
At a gap of 7:47 behind Brabec in the overall is Yamalube Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren, who advanced to second today. The Frenchman nearly gained a huge advantage in the field when he was able to locate one of the elusive waypoints that had much of the lead field wandering in the dunes.
“I could have hit the jackpot today,” said Van Beveren. “I was just catching up with the group on the dunes when I saw them turning around in circles. I realized they were unable to find the waypoint, so I pulled away and validated the waypoint, but Matthias saw me and the rest followed him. Unfortunately they saw me. I still managed to put time into everyone except Ricky, so it was a good day.”
Andrew Short is plugging away, and finished sixth in the special as he continues to shine in the dunes. Despite some harsh weather, Short called it a good day. “It seems that in this area of Peru the weather is a little extreme,” said Short. “There’s always something crazy over here and today we had some fog, a lot of wind and some parts with fesh-fesh. I rode most of the stage by myself and then toward the end I got caught by a couple of other riders. Racing alongside others, it’s much easier to know and control my pace. Overall, it was a decent day. I’ve made some big improvements this year with my navigation and my speed and I’m happy with that.”
After some impressive rides by American privateer Skyler Howes, including a top-10 finish in Stage 5 that put him into 18th overall, the rookie Dakar racer’s effort has come to a halt after injuring his shoulder.
“Really sad to say that after dislocating my shoulder twice within the first 30km of SS6, I’ve chose to withdraw to allow myself to heal,” said Howes. “But I’m alive, healthy and I gave it my all.”
Howes’ Klymciw Husqvarna teammate Garrett Poucher remains in the race, currently at 45th overall. Nathan Rafferty, the final American rider in the field, is 57th overall.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Stage 7
- Ricky Brabec (Hon) 24:48:02
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) +07:47
- Toby Price (KTM) +08:28
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +09:58
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +09:59
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +16:15
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +16:16
- Stefan Svitko (KTM) +37:09
- Andrew Short (Hus) +39:17
- Xavier De Soultrait (Yam) +40:08
45. Garrett Poucher (Hus) +10:25:10
- Nathan Rafferty (KTM) +14:25:27
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 6
It was all change at the top in the 2019 Dakar Rally after Stage 6 between Arequipa and San Juan de Marcona, with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla rocketing to the stage win and taking the overall race lead from American Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda).
Brabec’s teammate Kevin Benavides took the early running in the 208-mile stage, holding the lead for the first 52 miles before Quintanilla surged his way to the front after a short neutralization zone. The Chilean was in blistering form after a day’s rest and surged his factory Husqvarna to a 1:52s stage victory over Benavides.
“The day wasn’t easy, the pace was quite fast, and navigation was difficult,” said Quintanilla. “We also had to race through strong headwinds. We had a good battle with Kevin Benavides and at one point I managed to pass him and retain the lead. It’s good to be back on top in the overall. The race is still long and I want to stick to my plan. Tomorrow I will be the first rider to start the stage and this is surely a disadvantage. But my plan is to fight back for a good result on day eight and then take advantage of the mass start on day nine. Lots of things can happen these next few days but I will do my best to keep my eyes focused on my goals.”
Brabec had a horror day in sixth place, 7:30s off the stage win and going from a one-minute overall lead heading into Day 6 to a 4:38s deficit in second overall.
The day wasn’t a total disaster for the factory Red Bull KTM team as 2018 Dakar Champion Matthias Walkner and 2016 winner Toby Price took third and fourth, respectively. Price is still well in contention for the overall lead, 5:17s behind Quintanilla, despite the ongoing issues with his broken scaphoid suffered one month before the start of the 2019 Dakar.
Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren continued his run of top five stage finishes in fifth overall. He was classified in ninth, however, he was deduced the eight minutes from his stage time he spent helping Lorenzo Santolino after the Spaniard suffered a fall during the stage.
Slovakian Stefan Svitko and Husqvarna’s Andrew Short finished seventh and eighth, respectively, with Luciano Benevides (Red Bull KTM) and Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Monster Energy Honda) rounding out the top 10.
In the overall standings, Quintanilla leads but Brabec and Price, Kevin Benavides fourth and Van Beveren in fifth are all within 10 minutes of the lead.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Day 6
- Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 20:45:13
- Ricky Brabec (Honda) +04:38
- Toby Price +05:17
- Kevin Benavides (Honda) +08:01
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) +09:32
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +10:46
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +21:06
- Stefan Svitko +31:56
- Xavier De Soultrait +38:04
- Andrew Short +38:56
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 5
Stage 5 of the 2019 Dakar Rally sent riders back from the mountains into the dunes of Peru in what was the second half of the marathon stage. Despite finishing outside the top-10 on the day, American rider Ricky Brabec of the Monster Energy Honda team succeeded in maintaining the overall lead in the motorcycle category, but by less than one minute over Stage 5 winner Sam Sunderland of the Red Bull KTM team.
The sandy Stage 5 saw riders head out in a moto-style start in groups of 10 and head into the dunes. The first row saw Brabec, Sunderland, Matthias Walkner, Paulo Goncalves, Toby Price, Adrien Van Beveren, Jose Ignacio Cornejo, Stefan Svitko, Kevin Benavides and Lorenzo Santolino charge off the line, followed five minutes later by another wave of 10.
Perhaps more in his element from the very beginning, former supercross star Andrew Short got out to a good start and spent some time leading the charge. Short blazed the trail for his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Pablo Quintanilla, who started on the second row but quickly made up time and eventually worked his way into the lead.
By CP4, the lead turned into a three-way dogfight between Benavides, Van Beveren and Price, but Quintanilla once again regained the lead, determined to make up time lost in Stage 4. The Chilean kept his bearings and fought hard all the way through the dunes, only to run into problems 2.5 miles from the finish of the 214-mile special.
Xavier De Soultrait of the Yamalube Yamaha team was first to complete the special, but in the end, the stage victory was awarded to Sunderland. The Red Bull KTM rider had stopped to assist downed rider Paulo Goncalves (who is now out of the race with a suspected broken hand). After spending nearly 10 minutes with Goncalves, Sunderland continued on his way and was awarded time back, ultimately crediting him with the win.
Quintanilla slipped to a disappointing 13th place on the day, once again watching his hard work unravel, this time only minutes from the finish. But he still sits within striking distance of the overall lead, sitting third, less than three minutes away from Brabec. Price is another 30 seconds back followed by Walkner, Van Beveren and Benavides—the top seven riders still within 10 minutes of each other.
Andrew Short held on for sixth on the day, moving back into the top-10 in the general ranking.
It was another incredible day for American rookie Dakar racer Skyler Howes. The Klymciw Husqvarna rider amazed everyone with the third-quickest time to the first checkpoint, and he went on to finish 10th in the special, besting Brabec, Benavides and Quintanilla on the day. It seems the paddock has taken notice of the “sturdy American” (noting his 6’2” size) who has now climbed into 18th in the overall standing.
Riders now arrive back in Arequipa where they will have a rest day tomorrow. It is the halfway point of the 2019 Dakar Rally, with stages 6-10 still to come. Motorcycle riders will leave tomorrow night (Saturday, January 12) and liaison to the start of Stage 6, where they will resume racing on Sunday, January 13.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Day 5
- Ricky Brabec (Hon) 16:51:34
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +00:59
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +02:52
- Toby Price (KTM) +03:21
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +06:17
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) +06:36
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +09:01
- Xavier De Soultrait (Yam) +18:37
- Stefan Svitko (KTM) +26:28
- Andrew Short (Hus) +27:54
- Skyler Howes (Hus) +01:36:08
- Garrett Poucher (Hus) +06:39:07
- Nathan Rafferty (KTM) +08:15:54
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 4
After a disappointing day yesterday where he lost 20 minutes and fell back to seventh place, Ricky Brabec rebounded in a big way, dominating Stage 4 from Arequipa and moving into the overall lead. It was an incredible day for the American, who worried he had thrown away his chance at an overall victory after getting lost in the fog on Stage 3 along with much of the field.
“I needed this,” said Brabec. “Yesterday was tough on me and I lost a lot of time. Today I really, really needed to push with the marathon night and motocross start tomorrow. It kind of helps me because tomorrow I can kind of just hang back and have the stage under my control and finish where I want. With the motocross start it makes it easy to manage. That’s my plan for tomorrow and I’m really happy with today and getting the stage win as well as making up a bit of time.”
Riders headed from Arequipa to Moquegua, Peru today in the first half of the marathon stage. They will receive no outside help tonight, and in the morning, they will face one of the three mass starts of the 2019 Dakar Rally, meaning a motocross-style gate start as opposed to the typical segmented starts that send riders off one at a time. This allows Brabec to maintain his time advantage without the burden of having to open the stage. (Stage 9 will also be a mass start; Stage 8 will be a group start for the top 10.)
The difficult terrain of the Peruvian mountains played to the advantage of the Southern Californian, with tough sections, rocky terrain and dust putting him in familiar territory. Brabec picked a good stage to flex some muscle; at 251 miles (405km), Stage 4 is the longest of the 2019 Dakar Rally. The Monster Energy Honda rider gained time on the field in what seemed like a flawless ride. As for conserving his tires for the second half of the marathon stage, that task falls to his domestique, Ignacio Cornejo.
“I put a hole in my rear tire so I maybe need to change that with my teammate Nacho Conejo,” said Brabec. “But other than that, the bike didn’t touch the ground. My body is still 100%, the bike is still 100%. We’ll go back and do a quick review of the bike and then put it to sleep for the night.”
Pablo Quintanilla, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider who only yesterday had a comfortable 11-minute lead, saw all his hard work slip away today as he gave up 20 minutes to the field. The Chilean rider still sits second overall only 2:19 behind Brabec. Another two minutes back is Toby Price, the Red Bull KTM rider, followed by his teammate Sam Sunderland in fourth after day four.
“It was a really hard stage today,” said Quintanilla. “The first part had some tricky navigation in the fesh-fesh (silt). In the last waypoint before the refueling I made a mistake but was able to get back on the tracks quickly. Then after the neutralization point the tracks were really hard. There was a long, dry river bed with many stones and it was hard to make some time. Overall, I’m happy to have finished the first part of the marathon stage without any problems. I’m hoping to be back stronger for the second part tomorrow.”
Matthias Walkner, the defending Dakar Rally champion, helped himself to a second-place finish today, slashing his 21-minute deficit to the leader to only 9 minutes, advancing to seventh in the ranking. But he crossed the finish with an injured ankle, which he suspects may be broken.
“Fifty kilometers before the end I did a big jump and landed heavily,” said Walkner. “First I was thinking, okay, maybe it’s broken.’ It’s really painful now, but we will see how it is tomorrow and I’m going to put some ice on it. It was okay in the end [for the marathon stage], because I didn’t crash and the bike is running well, plus we are like a big group and a team and we help each other, so everything is good.”
Stage 4 went a long way in evening out the field after yesterday’s excitement. The motorcycle classification went from an 11-minute gap for the leader to less than 10 minutes separating the top seven riders. Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren sits fifth with a fifth-place finish on the day, followed by Kevin Benavides and Walkner.
American Andrew Short was once again 12th in the stage, moving to 11th in the general classification. Shorty described a smooth, steady day, which he needed after some crashes yesterday left him sore.
“Today the pace was really fast, we were going fifth and sixth gear in the fesh-fesh,” said Short. “I stayed smooth and tried not to take any unnecessary risks. My result was good considering I didn’t push or go over the limits today. I’m happy that my body is getting better after the crashes on Wednesday. Overall, I feel I can push more in the technical terrain and I’m looking forward for the dune stages to come.”
Skyler Howes had another strong day finishing 24th in the special for 22nd overall, sitting just behind the Factory KTM duo of Laia Sanz and Mario Patrao. Garrett Poucher finished 56th (66th overall) and Nathan Rafferty ended the day in 63rd (70th overall).
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Day 4
1. Ricky Brabec (Hon) 12:33:00
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +2:19
3. Toby Price (KTM) +04:22
4. Sam Sunderland (KTM) +05:45
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) +08:56
6. Kevin Benavides (Hon) +09:01
7. Matthias Walkner (KTM) +09:31
8. Paulo Goncalves (Hon) +20:45
9. Xavier De Soultrait (Yam) +22:00
10. Stefan Svitko (KTM) +28:09
11. Andrew Short (Hus) +30:04
22. Skyler Howes (Hus) +1:36:54
66. Garrett Poucher (Hus) +5:54:38
70. Nathan Rafferty (KTM) +6:15:47
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 3
It was a drama-filled day at the 2019 Dakar Rally, where leaders dropped out, defending champions lost precious time, results were completely shaken up and the road books were completely thrown out the window (or, more accurately, were confiscated by Race Direction).
Racers headed out on Stage 3 under the new rule that pilots cannot add information to their roll charts. This came after Race Direction made the sudden decision to collect the road books of all competitors at the finish of Stage 2 yesterday (see below for more). This changeup might explain why so many top riders lost time today; of course, it could also be simply due to complex navigation through the mountains and thick fog. Riders left the shores of San Juan de Marcona and headed up the base of the Andes to the volcano-rimmed city of Arequipa, Peru today at the 2019 Dakar Rally.
“Definitely, it was difficult with the fog,” said 2017 Dakar Rally Champion Sam Sunderland of the Red Bull KTM team, who finished fifth on the day to move into third overall. “The only thing you could do was ease down on your pace a little and take a lot of care. At one point visibility was down to just a few meters.
“The road book had a lot of long notes that weren’t as clear as they could have been and I think a few people struggled with that. As the day went on the riders grouped up and that is always a bit unpredictable because you don’t know what the other guys are going to do. This is the Dakar though, we know it’s difficult and we know we’ll have stages like this. It’s still early days so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla is the new leader of the motorcycle classification at the close of the hectic stage. The Chilean finished the day second overall behind Yamaha rider Xavier De Soultrait. The Yamalube Yamaha rider shined in the fog today en route to his career first Dakar stage win, 15 seconds ahead of Quintanilla.
“The real rally has begun,” the Frenchman declared. “It was the first stage with serious navigation. It was a hard stage because the fog reduced visibility to under two meters. I’ve started the rally cautiously, as planned, and today I won the stage. It’s awesome. Tomorrow comes the marathon stage. I’ll be opening the road; it won’t be easy. I want to make it to the rest day in top shape.”
Indeed, Stage 3 was the first time the top motorcycle riders carried the burden of opening the track. The first stage (a short 50-mile special) saw a reverse-order start, and Stage 2 sent the motorcycles out behind the cars and side x sides.
The foggy conditions ultimately spelled the end of the race for the previous leader of the rally, Joan Barreda. The Monster Energy Honda rider led the field in the first two stages, but his race has come to an early end after going over a ledge and getting stuck in a ravine, a huge blow to the factory Honda team.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Barreda. “I was feeling strong, attacking and catching up with the riders in front of me. I got to a summit where it was really foggy. There was no visibility and I went down the wrong descent. It was extremely slippery; it was impossible for me to get back up. I looked for a solution at the bottom, but I didn’t find any. There was no way out.”
With so many riders dropping time in the fog, new leader Pablo Quintanilla now has a comfortable 11-minute gap over the field, placing himself in a good position early in the rally.
“The real Dakar has just started,” said Quintanilla, echoing De Soultrait’s sentiments. “I’m happy with where I’m at right now. Today we had a difficult stage. There was a lot of fog and in some parts you couldn’t see far ahead. If you tried to push, you ended up missing the right tracks. I took my time there and rode really carefully. At one crucial point in the mountains I made the right decision and gained some time to my rivals.”
Ending third on the day and moving into second overall in the standings (from eighth) was Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides. It was a good step forward for Benavides in what was an otherwise disappointing day for the HRC squad. Along with Barreda’s early retirement, American rider Ricky Brabec, who had been running a close third, dropped to seventh today after losing 20 minutes to the leader.
“The stage was tough,” said Brabec, who ended up opening much of the stage after Matthias Walkner crashed. “At kilometer 178 there was a really difficult waypoint which was not where it was shown in the road book. I spent fifteen minutes looking around for the way point and rode around for 30 kilometers. It was a bad day. We’ll have to make it up. But for me, in my mind, it’s going to be tough.”
It was also a gutting day for the KTM factory team, with its trio of former champions—Sunderland, Toby Price and Walkner—losing precious time, Price losing 14 minutes and Walkner dropping 23 minutes in the special.
“I think it was more about survival than racing today,” said Australian Toby Price. “It was a really tough stage. I got lost early on and that cost me some time to the frontrunners. Then at about the 130km mark there was a lot of fog in the mountains. The road book didn’t have too many details and there were a few cliffs you could have dropped off. Luckily, I missed them. I’m still trying to hang on and get to the end of each stage but I’m feeling good and that’s what matters.”
For Walkner, who had the task of opening the stage, it was a difficult day, complicated by a crash on a downhill. “After that I couldn’t find my rhythm so well again,” said Walkner. “It’s only day three though, and we have many kilometers left to race.”
Andrew Short maintained a steady position, remaining 10th in the overall.
American privateer rider Skyler Howes had another strong day, advancing to 21st overall after an incredible 17th-place finish in the stage. His teammate Garrett Poucher advanced to 79th overall, rebounding from a difficult ride yesterday with a 28th-place finish on the day. Nathan Rafferty ended Stage 3 in 70th to now sit 77th overall.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Day 3
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) 8:34:28
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +11:23
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +12:12
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) +13:29
- Toby Price (KTM) +15:17
- Xavier De Soultrait (Yam) +16:52
- Ricky Brabec (Hon) +18:02
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +21:14
- Paulo Goncalves (Hon) +25:11
- Andrew Short (Hus) +29:15
21. Skyler Howes (Hus) +1:24:56
77. Nathan Rafferty (KTM) +4:42:49
79. Garrett Poucher (Hus) +4:43:21
Race Direction Orders All Road Books Handed Over
Following the close of the second stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally, ASO Race Direction unexpectedly collected all road books from car, truck and motorcycle competitors. The sudden decision came after it was discovered that some competitors’ road books contained extra markings (beyond the allowed markings such as highlighted colors).
Rather than punish the offenders, ASO made the decision to enact a new rule. Starting from the third stage (Wednesday, January 9), pilots are forbidden to add information to the road book. Race Direction has stated, “Systematic controls will happen from Leg 3 onwards.”
For the remainder of the 2019 Dakar Rally, road books (roll charts) for the top 15 finishers will be checked by organizers at the end of each stage, with random checks taking place for the rest of the field each day.
Officials claim section 17P2.3 of the 2019 Dakar Rally regulations has been broken, which reads:
“3) It is only authorised to carry on the Rider and his Machine, the route notes for the current Event (official Road Book), the opening car’s modifications, which may be integrated into the Road Book and personal notes resulting from a previous passage (whatever direction) in the current Event.
“Maps are allowed with the exception of photographic satellite maps.
Riders who do not respect these rules will be refused the start or will be disqualified.”
It is not clear what exactly was found in the road books that was deemed against the rules, or which competitors’ roll charts it was found in. But it could have been additional GPS points, satellite images or additional geographical info.
Following is the text from the bulletin posted in the bivouac in San Juan de Marcona to 2019 Dakar Rally competitors…
SPORTING INFORMATION NOTE
Roadbooks have been unexpectedly picked up by the organization in both Cars and Bikes categories after Special #2. It has been noticed that the following articles have not been respected:
- 3 Cars and Trucks regulations
- 3 Bikes and Quads regulations
As a consequence, and in regards to the numerous infractions noticed from competitors, both Race Directions have exceptionally decided that the sanctions would not be applied. However, accuracies will be brought to such articles through a dedicated bulletin. Systematic controls will happen from Leg 3 onwards.
BULLETIN (Distributed to the pilots at the start of Leg 3)
The add of any information on the roadbook:
- Geographic(s) indication(s) that could be useful for navigation
- GPS point(s)
Different from the ones already on the roadbook itself and on the opening notes provided by the organization are strictly forbidden.
Controls will be operated. The roadbook used by the Rider or the Crew members will have to be given in full upon request at the end of the Special or Road Section to the Marshal in charge of their collection.
Any Pilot or Crew that would not respect those rules will be sanctioned by:
- 1st infraction: 3 hour penalty
- 2nd infraction: Disqualification
Any missing or lost roadbook will be considered as an infraction.
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 2
Two stages into a 10-stage race, is it too early to make a statement? Perhaps not… Ricky Brabec, the American rider of the Monster Energy Factory Honda team is staking his claim at the pointy end of the field in the early goings of the 2019 Dakar Rally. The California native nearly topped Stage 2 in Peru, only yielding to defending champion Matthias Walkner in the final seconds of the special as riders made their way from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona, Peru. The Red Bull KTM rider bested Brabec by 22 seconds at the end of the 212-mile (342km) special to take the stage win, but it is third-place finisher on the day, Monster Energy Honda’s Joan Barreda, who still holds the overall lead as the dust settles on day two.
“I wanted to push today,” said Brabec, who led the way through all but the final check of the stage. “Actually, I want to push every day, no matter what the next day is like. As far as being smart and having a strategy goes, I just want to win as much as I can and hopefully make it to the end of the Dakar with a good spot.”
Pushing was a difficult task today as bikes started behind the cars, leaving them to take on a course chewed up by over 100 cars and side x sides. Much of the day’s course took riders down the beach, but some silty terrain complicated matters further.
“I don’t know at the moment if it was such a good decision to push that much,” said Walkner. “I don’t think I caught up that much time. In the end, sure, it’s good to have a stage win. But there are still more long days coming.
“The cars were difficult to pass in some places. The cars were not dead fast; sometimes it was bad, so we had to overtake, but the most difficult was the fesh-fesh (silt) getting really loose. Sometimes with the bikes it was so deep that you can’t miss some stones, so it was quite dangerous at times, but it was fun.”
The win boosted Walkner up to second overall in the standings, a minute-and-a-half away from Barreda in the lead. But only two seconds separates Walkner and Brabec, the American rider in an extremely close third in the general classification.
Andrew Short has moved into the top-10 overall with a ninth-place finish on the special. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider called it a good day, and a lot of fun racing flat out down the beach.
“The stage was familiar to me from the previous Dakar,” said Shorty. “I raced most of the stage by myself. Today we were following the cars and I had to pass many side x sides in the dust and that was sketchy. But I really enjoyed the landscapes and to ride full gas next to the ocean. It was something pretty special and I sure made some memories to keep forever. Overall I’m really happy with where I’m at and I hope I can maintain a decent pace in the stages to come.”
Short’s Rockstar Husky teammate Pablo Quintanilla sits fourth overall ahead of Toby Price, another rider who took a step forward in the ranking in Stage 2, going from sixth to fifth. Fellow Red Bull KTM rider Sam Sunderland sits sixth, followed by Yamalube Yamaha factory rider Adrien Van Beveren, who took a dip in the standings and now sits more than 10 minutes away from the leader.
American privateer rider Skyler Howes advanced in the standings from 46th to 36th after the first long stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally. His teammate Garrett Poucher fell behind by two and a half hours, but brought it to the finish after a long day. Nathan Rafferty also made it to the finish of Stage 2 and now sits 92nd in the rankings.
Tomorrow riders will face a slightly shorter special (205 mi/331km) but a longer liaison (290 mi/467km) for a total of 495 miles (798km). Elevation will rise and temperatures will drop as they head from the shores of San Juan de Marcona into the mountains to Arequipa, Peru, which sits at the base of the Andes Mountains at 7500 feet.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Day 2
- Joan Barreda (Hon) 4:23:14
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +01:31
- Ricky Brabec (Hon) +01:33
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +03:17
- Toby Price (KTM) +04:33
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +07:18
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) +10:19
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +12:18
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Hon) +17:24
- Andrew Short (Hus) +17:37
- Paulo Goncalves (Hon) +19:12
- Xavier De Soultrait (Yam) +20:24
- Skyler Howes (Hus) +57:42
- Nathan Rafferty (KTM) +2:45:43
- Garrett Poucher (Hus) +3:31:11
2019 Dakar Rally Stage 1
Day one of the 2019 Dakar Rally is in the books, and Monster Energy Honda Team’s Joan Barreda is the first to win a stage. Barreda came out strong in dunes to collect a 1:34 lead over Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla (the all-Peru event promises a lot of sand in the next two weeks as riders take on 10 stages, mostly through the Peruvian dunes), but it was American rider Ricky Brabec who led at the first time check of the rally. The Monster Energy Honda rider led the way by a single second at the first checkpoint, and held on to finish third on the day—a strong start to his fourth career Dakar Rally.
“It’s always difficult, this kind of stage,” said winner Barreda. “Everybody is really fast over this terrain. It’s exciting to start like this, but sometimes it can be dangerous. You always need to take care. I think I rode a good stage; I’ve got a good feeling and we are ready for more stages.”
Fourth on the day went to top Yamalube Yamaha Rally rider Adrien Van Beveren, who explains, “I didn’t dare to go on all-out attack” in the first stage. The Frenchman had a rough year last year, which included a devastating crash while leading the Dakar Rally. After overcoming multiple injuries, the factory Yamaha rider is ready to redeem himself at the Dakar.
The Red Bull KTM trio of Sam Sunderland, Toby Price and defending Dakar Champion Matthias Walkner followed in fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively. Price, the reigning FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion, started the race nursing an injury, a broken scaphoid in his right wrist, which he broke while training three weeks ago. Price underwent surgery, placing a screw in the broken bone, which he says, “should be half-decent.”
“There’s still a little bit of pain, for sure. The scaphoid’s not the best bone to be breaking, but I’m still comfortable. If we’re in the right position and the wrist can put up with the pressure and everything, then we’ll definitely go full gas.”
Despite starting outside the top spots, the KTM trio will undoubtedly be a force in the 2019 Dakar Rally against the factory teams of Honda, Yamaha and Husqvarna, who are all desperate to put a stop to the mighty orange win streak in Dakar. Factory KTM has 17 straight Dakar Rally motorcycle wins.
But as 2016 Dakar Rally Champion Toby Price well knows, anything can and does happen in the world’s toughest rally race. “Even if KTM has been winning everything for a while, no one is the boss of the Dakar.”
American rider Andrew Short carded 12th on the day, and is another rider who will likely rise through the ranks as the race progresses. The supercross convert has learned quite a bit since being thrown into the fire one year ago and will look to improve on his 17th-place result from 2018
Klymciw Racing teammates Garrett Poucher and Skyler Howes of the U.S. finished within seconds of each other in the first stage, the rookie contestants collecting 45th and 46th aboard their Garrett Off-road Racing-backed KTMs. Nathan Rafferty, the final American motorcycle rider in the field, reached the finish in 96th place.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Bike: Day 1
- Joan Barreda (Hon)
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +01:34
- Ricky Brabec (Hon) +02:52
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) +02:55
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) +02:56
- Toby Price (KTM) +03:08
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +03:12
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +04:00
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Hon) +05:22
- Xavier De Soultrait (Yam) +05:54
- Paulo Goncalves (Hon) +06:41
- Michael Metge (Shr) +06:49
- Andrew Short (Hus) +06:53
45. Garrett Poucher (Hus) +19:22
46. Skyler Howes (Hus) +19:28
96. Nathan Rafferty (KTM) +41:03
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