Yamaha finally got on the elite list of stage winners in the 2016 Dakar rally on the penultimate day. Helder Rodriguez gave the until-now quiet Yamaha camp something to cheer about, and climbed into fourth overall in the process.
Toby Price (KTM) enjoyed a trouble-free day on the way to Villa Carlos Paz and extended his lead in the process. The prize for the worst luck went to Antoine Meo, who fell less than 20 kilometres from the finishing line. The Frenchman who had decided to sacrifice his third place in the general standings to escort Price, his team leader, in keeping with the team instructions to provide protection and assistance to the team leader. Unfortunately, he suffered a heavy fall less than 50 kilometres from the finishing line. With an injured hand, as well as other damage, he finished the stage slowly, 38 minutes behind the day’s winner.
In the overall ranking, Toby Price preserves his lead of more than 37 minutes over Stefan Svitko and 53 minutes over Pablo Quintanilla. If he wins tomorrow, Toby Price will be the first Australian rider to win the Dakar, and definitively enter into the rally’s history.
Price said it had been tough day, where there was a 450km liaison section to ride before they reached the start of the timed special. “Before the special started you felt like you had already done a half marathon. But for sure we got through it with no big dramas. It was a hard stage, not with the navigation but just with preserving the bike and the tires. There was a lot of real sharp shale rocks and they chewed up everything really quick. It felt like I was riding on ice on the last bit. We also copped a fair bit of rain in the last section. The riverbeds were up again and it felt like the crossings were very slippery. I went for one little ‘excursion’ where it was slippery and I caught a bit of mud. So I just backed it down to make sure we got to the finish line and I didn’t trash the bike or myself.” Price admitted that now so close to the end of the race, the emotions were on the rise with a real prospect of winning this 9,000 epic on only his second attempt. “There’s a lot of mixed thoughts, a lot of emotions but the bike’s all good and the team has done an unbelievable job in getting it sorted. Now we just have to get to the finish line.”
HRC Honda’s Ricky Brabeck was 17th in today’s stage and holds ninth overall. “Today was definitely fast and long – our liaison was over 400 km which is hard on the body and hard on the head and you don’t get a lot of sleep because you are up so early in the morning. But other than that, the stage was good. You know that we hit a lot of rain and it was cold up top in the mountains and really slippery. I don’t know if the trucks are going to be able to go up there. For the bike it was pretty dangerous and scary. Today was good and I’m happy to finish and I’m happy to get on to the final day. Today I felt good, I was sore yesterday when I woke up feeling good and happy. I was riding really well and I felt comfortable. My mistake was that I did a full doughnut on the dirt-bike and dropped the bike because it was full of fuel and pretty heavy and that resulted in bent handlebars, which I was annoyed about, but I’m glad to be here.”
As far as other Americans, Ian Blythe has been doing better and better as the rally progresses. He was eighth in stage 11, and that put him in 25th overall. Today he suffered a small setback, finishing 66th and losing one place in the standings. Alexander Smith was 36th and holds 37th overall. Scott Bright was 55th and sits in 54th.
Team Honda’s video report after stage 11
|1||RODRIGUES Helder||7||POR||Yamaha Motor Europe||6:00’24|
|2||PRICE Toby||3||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||+4’32|
|3||BENAVIDES Kevin||47||ARG||Honda South America Rally Team||+4’55|
|4||SVITKO Stefan||5||SLO||Slovnaft Team||+6’48|
|5||VAN BEVEREN Adrien||42||FRA||Yamaha Motor Europe||+7’28|
|6||QUINTANILLA Pablo||4||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||+12’23|
|7||FARRES Gerard||23||SPA||Himoinsa Team||+17’04|
|8||MONLEON Armand||45||SPA||KTM Warsaw Rally Team||+17’15|
|9||PAIN Olivier||10||FRA||Nomade Racing||+17’36|
|10||CERUTTI Jacopo||50||ITA||HT Husqvarna Rally Team||+18’29|
|1||PRICE Toby||3||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||46:13’26|
|2||SVITKO Stefan||5||SLO||Slovnaft Team||+37’39|
|3||QUINTANILLA Pablo||4||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||+53’10|
|4||BENAVIDES Kevin||47||ARG||Honda South America Rally Team||+57’28|
|5||RODRIGUES Helder||7||POR||Yamaha Motor Europe||+57’29|
|6||MEO Antoine||49||FRA||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||+1:14’50|
|7||VAN BEVEREN Adrien||42||FRA||Yamaha Motor Europe||+1:36’42|
|8||FARRES Gerard||23||SPA||Himoinsa Team||+1:54’30|
|9||BRABEC Ricky||48||USA||Team HRC||+2:03’06|
|10||MONLEON Armand||45||SPA||KTM Warsaw Rally Team||+3:19’13|