Link section: 176 km - Special 1: 225 km – Neutralisation zone: 127 km – Special 2: 240 km – Link section: 82 km - Total : 852 km
The finish of the last Special (Salta - Tucuman) before the rest day was somewhat eventful before being neutralised at CP2 for the last 16 motorcyclists and quads who had not yet crossed the Rio. They were awarded a time based on that of the last rider to finish the Special, and David Casteu wound up top of the leader board on Sunday.
During the “rest” day, a stiflingly hot and humid San Miguel de Tucuman welcomed a procession of VIPs who turned out to admire the participants and their machines. For the mechanics, the day was punctuated by hours of repair work and for the riders by a series of press conferences.
Today, the caravan continues to move southwards after an interminably long special separated into two sections. The fast and slippery tracks wrought havoc with brakes and rear tyres, causing a series of riders to crash.
Joan Barreda (Husqvarna Speedbrain), who set out in front and led for most of the way, navigated the 470 kilometres of Special superbly, and despite two minor crashes, finished only 4' behind Stage winner Després (KTM). Unfortunately, after riding aggressively throughout the Selective Section, the Catalan rider was left with a virtually bald rear tyre and had a tough time controlling his bike in the second leg.
The Dakar is fraught with hidden dangers and David Casteu (Yamaha), who was top of the leader board at the start of the day, had a surprise encounter with a cow. The animal made contact with the end of his handlebar and he was thrown to the ground. The rider from the Var arrived at the refuelling stop bitterly disappointed and with a very painful shoulder. The doctors strapped him up and he was able to leave but he stopped a few times to check his machine, finishing in a (provisional) 91st place.
Olivier Pain (Yamaha) crashed in a pothole, but was able to fix his handlebars at the refuelling stop and finished the Special in 28th.
There was a crash for Chaleco Lopez, too, whose KTM arrived at the bivouac somewhat crumpled and with a totally bald rear tyre. The Chilean rider finished 11th, 16' behind Cyril Després, but “water carrier” Ruben Faria (KTM) is now top of the leader board with a 5' lead over his team mate Després, who has already taken a 15' penalty for changing engines. Chaleco is third, 9' behind Faria.
Helder Rodrigues on his Honda is hanging in there, coming in 5th in the Special and 7th overall.
In quad, Lukaz Laskawiec of Poland won the Stage ahead of overall leader Marcos Patronelli, who is looking very dominant for now, followed by Sebastian Hussein and Rafal Sonik.
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