Australia desert racer Toby Price of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team on Friday won his third stage in the 2016 Dakar Rally and moves within 35 seconds of current overall leader Paolo Goncalves of Portugal. Price has now won three of the six stages, with another seven still on the program.

Factory teammate Matthias Walkner of Austria was second in the stage, finishing only one minute five seconds behind Price, who completed the 542km timed special in five hours 51 minutes 48 seconds. The total stage distance was 723km, the longest so far in this edition. Current overall leader Goncalves was third in the stage, just 1:12 adrift of the stage winner.

Ricky Brabec
Ricky Brabec

American Dakar debutant Ricky Brabec turned in a thrilling performance – his best to date – finishing in seventh on the day and jumping to fourteenth in the general rankings. Joan Barreda came out gunning for victory in this, the longest special stage of the Dakar 2016 at 542 kilometres. After a gutsy start climbing the field, the Spaniard was suddenly forced to halt and lost time trying to sort out a technical issue. Team-mate Paolo Ceci was soon on hand to help out and at the time of sending this press release the rider is being towed by his colleague back to base in an attempt to salvage something from the Dakar. What exactly caused the machine to stop is yet unclear.

Paulo Gonclaves
Paulo Gonclaves

Friday’s stage took riders in a loop from and to Uyuni (Bolivia), which also skirted along the western side of the famed Uyuni saltpans. Plans to send riders across the saltpans had to be changed because of rain in the region. Price, as winner of stage five was the first rider out and was consistently up front in the special.

Price: “It was a good day, a long day on the bike but we got through the stage really well. We slowed down at the times we had to navigate, and that’s the first time I’ve led from start to finish. We’re sitting in a good position and it’s a good fight.” Asked how he was coping with the altitudes he said: “It takes a bit of power out of the bike (because of the thinner air) but it’s the same with everyone’s, also with the cars. But for me, I’m doing well with the altitude, and the body’s holding up well. Also the bike. We’re looking after it pretty well and we’re keen, so I’m looking forward to the second week.”

Walkner: “At the beginning it wasn’t perfect. I was in the dust of two riders for 160km. Then I was able to pass them and I found a super rhythm. It was a very tough, long stage, particularly the last 50-80km, also because we were at a very high altitude. But in the end it was a super day for me.”

Brabec: “Today the stage was really, really fast, a lot faster than I like to go actually. It wasn’t only fast but it was super-dusty. Starting 24th, over the first 150-200 kilometres I was in the dust just hanging out. At the first refuelling I was closer to the people in front of me. I was playing it safe all day, riding consistently. I made a mistake in the dust on a stony corner. The front wheel just washed out on me and I laid the bike over. Other than that, the stage was good… good and dangerous! So, I’m happy to be here again and we can go again tomorrow.:

Speaking after the stage, Antoine Meo said he had made a mistake at the beginning of the day that had cost him about six minutes. He also discovered the dreaded fesh-fesh, the very soft dust that looks deceptively like solid ground. “I didn’t know what it was before, but I do now,” he remarked with some irony. “After that mistake it was all good, but I was riding behind Matthias (Walkner) and the speed was a little too fast for me because it was tricky and dangerous, so I slowed down a bit. I’m happy with the stage.”

Alexander Smith was 47th on the stage and now moves up to 51st overall. “Long day today. No crashes or any problems for me. We head back to Argentina tomorrow. Still working my way forward in the standings.”

Stage seven is another long day with a total of 793km and 353km under the clock. Riders leave Uyuni, where they have had a rapturous welcome from the Bolivian fans, and return to Argentina to finish at the city of Salta. They will face a number of river crossings made more difficult because of the amount of rain that has been falling recently. Sunday is the one rest day on this epic 9,000 km journey, a chance for teams to service machinery and for riders to draw a resume of their race performance so far. 

Stage 6

1 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team 5:51’48
2 WALKNER Matthias 14 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +1’05
3 GONCALVES Paulo 2 POR Team HRC +1’12
4 SVITKO Stefan 5 SLO Slovnaft Team +4’44
5 RODRIGUES Helder 7 POR Yamaha Motor Europe +5’23
6 ARANA Txomin 27 SPA GOR Sport +7’59
7 BRABEC Ricky 48 USA Team HRC +8’16
8 BOTTURI Alessandro 18 ITA Yamaha Motor Europe +9’19
9 VILADOMS Jordi 11 SPA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +11’09
10 METGE Michael 19 FRA Team HRC +11’10




1 GONCALVES Paulo 2 POR Team HRC 20:23’07
2 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +00’35
3 WALKNER Matthias 14 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +2’50
4 SVITKO Stefan 5 SLO Slovnaft Team +5’17
5 QUINTANILLA Pablo 4 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +15’10
6 RODRIGUES Helder 7 POR Yamaha Motor Europe +20’12
7 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Honda South America Rally Team +21’04
8 MEO Antoine 49 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +23’02
9 DUCLOS Alain 20 FRA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +26’09
10 PEDRERO Joan 17 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +27’17
11 ARANA Txomin 27 SPA GOR Sport +30’49
12 METGE Michael 19 FRA Team HRC +33’31
13 BOTTURI Alessandro 18 ITA Yamaha Motor Europe +33’44
14 BRABEC Ricky 48 USA Team HRC +33’46
15 FARRES Gerard 23 SPA Himoinsa Team +39’27

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