Heavy rains and an overflowed river meant yet another route modification at Dakar Rally 2017. Tuesday’s leg was eventually divided in two parts with a 176-kilometre liaison at the border between Bolivia and Argentina*.
Taking the vehicles through streams and dunes, the second half of this year’s marathon stage climbed up to 4,400m of altitude and saw the first repeat winner of this year’s rally.
Joan Barreda is the first bike rider to take two stage wins this year, 3’51 ahead of second-placed Matthias Walkner. The KTM rider only preceded his teammate Sam Sunderland by three seconds, allowing the Brit to gain on his rivals in the overall standings.
This was the second part of a Marathon stage, where riders have little in the way of assistance overnight. Ricky Brabec, who won the first half of the Marathon, was at a disadvantage in the morning when he had to open the course in poor visibility.
Barreda: “There were a lot dangers out there at the start of the special. A lot of water, a lot of mud and mist to make the visibility more complicated. But I got to enjoy the final 300 kilometres and I was able to open the throttle a bit more. By the end, the tyres had taken a fair beating from the marathon stage and were skidding a lot. But it was great fun to finish at the front and with the best time too.”
Brabec: “Today was long and this morning was rough. The fog was so bad that you couldn’t see more than two metres ahead of you. That played a big part in trying to open the stage. The rain over the last few days had completely washed away the tracks. It was difficult for sure. I went down in the sand trying to clean my goggles. You’ve got to clean your goggles every thirty seconds to get vision. Paulo (Goncalves) was next to me and we rode together and had fun. It was a long day.”
Tomorrow’s stage 9 has already been called off due to weather.