Team HRC overcomes the adversities of the second marathon stage

Ricky_Brabec_Team_HRC_Dakar_Rally_2016-01-13Team HRC’s Paulo Gonçalves put yesterday’s marathon stage problems firmly behind him in stage ten of the Dakar 2016. The Portuguese rider finished fourth on the day with American team-mate Ricky Brabec also among the top ten. Argentinean Kevin Benavides from Honda South America Rally Team grabs second place in the timed section.

The tenth outing so far in the 2016 Rally Dakar, for the umpteenth time, fell victim to extreme weather. The 278 scheduled kilometres of timed special stage that connect the Belén bivouac with La Rioja were cut short, 30 kilometres shy of the final finish-line. Again a swollen river, too deep to cross, was enough for race authorities to stop the course prematurely.

At the end of yesterday’s drama-filled escapade, Paulo Gonçalves, alongside Team HRC sidekicks Michael Metge, Ricky Brabec and Paolo Ceci, set to work on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, whose radiator had been pierced by a log. Once substituted, they were able to see that the piston, previously believed to be damaged, was in fact sound and some adjustments to the bike’s compression were all that were necessary to get the machine road-worthy.

After the cancellation yesterday of the latter part of stage nine, Goncalves started out today from thirteenth position with an atypical start that saw cars, trucks and bikes head off together in groups. The Portuguese ace fought his way up the field before posting a final fourth position some six minutes off the day’s winner. Gonçalves thus consolidates his overall third place.

Ricky Brabec continues to take to his debut Dakar like a duck to water. After the second place finish in yesterday’s stage, the American today picked up an eighth place, 13’47” behind the stage victor. Brabec also lies in eighth in the general standings. Team-mate Paolo Ceci had a trouble-free day, nevertheless, Michael Metge was unable to take the start this morning.

Honda South America Rally Team continue to churn out excellent performances with a red-hot Kevin Benavides (Argentina) making a scorching Dakar debut, this time finishing runner-up to Svitko (Slovakia). Another newcomer to the world’s toughest rally, Adrien Metge (France) scored an eleventh place finish, his best partial result to date. The youngest of the Metge brothers climbs to twelfth place overall.

TOMORROW’ STAGE
2016 January 14. Stage 11: La Rioja – San Juan
Special sections: 431km
Total: 712km

Time for an attack
The level of difficulty remains the same, but variety will favour the most flexible of drivers and teams. Sand in all its forms will feature, particularly fesh-fesh, the most volatile and heavy kind, which demands both dexterity and patience. But speed will also be an advantage in other, straighter sections, featuring gravel and pebbles. Opportunities will be few and far between, but there is still time to shake up the standings, since the terrain will be favourable to creating significant gaps.

You can see the details of the eleventh stage (route and profile), here.

Paulo Goncalves 2
STAGE: 4th PROVISIONAL: 3rd

The day was a positive one. I started behind the trucks and the tracks weren’t good. The sand was very unstable and I had to ride very smoothly. The good thing is that I arrived without problems. I’m still in the fight for the top positions and now we will set the bike up for an attack tomorrow because in the marathon stage I repaired the bike as best I could. After what happened on Tuesday it will be very difficult to fight for the victory because the difference is very big. But it isn’t over yet. After the problems that I’ve had, to be here is very positive. I have to keep up a good pace every day, starting tomorrow.

Ricky Brabec 48
STAGE: 8th PROVISIONAL: 8th
Today, here at the second and final marathon, I knew it was going to be difficult so I sat back and took my time, just played it smart and safe, because I knew that the dunes would get me, so I took it easy. I’m happy to be at the finish-line and I’m ready to go for the next three days. I’m also happy that Paulo got back and running. I know that we can end up on top. So, I’m glad that Paulo is out there and that I’m here and we are all safe and ready to go.

Paolo Ceci 32
STAGE: 24th PROVISIONAL: 32nd
Two very challenging days. Yesterday I was very surprised to find Paulo stopped at CP2 and I towed him back to the bivouac. We worked really hard, the whole team, to be able to fix the bike and ride the stage and he completed it without problems. On the other hand I am a bit angry with the race organization for what happened in CP2 of yesterday’s stage. It was entirely their decision to stop the race there and later penalize all the riders who didn’t finish the special.
As far as my own race went, both yesterday and today were really difficult stages but I managed to finish them without problems. Today was an unforgettable stage because out of the 250 kilometres of special, we did 250 kilometres of dunes and off-road and the bike was always performing well.

Michael Metge 19
STAGE: DNF PROVISIONAL: –
I came out of the bivouac in good spirits because Paulo’s bike was working, but when I tried to start mine I couldn’t. I tried everything in my power to get it going but I couldn’t find the problem or repair it. It is a pity to have to drop out of the race in this way.

Kevin Benavides 47
STAGE: 2nd PROVISIONAL: 6th
Today was a difficult stage: hard, technical and with a lot of navigation. I was battling with Toby Price and Svitko and luckily I didn’t miss any waypoints and I was able to make it to the finish-line without mistakes, without losing time and with a fast pace.

Stage 10 . Belén – La Rioja

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 SVITKO Stefan 5 SLO Slovnaft Team KTM 3:47’23
2 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Honda South America Rally Team Honda +2’54
3 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +5’47
4 GONCALVES Paulo 2 POR Team HRC Honda +6’01
5 MEO Antoine 49 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +7’43
6 QUINTANILLA Pablo 4 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +9’55
7 RODRIGUES Helder 7 POR Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +12’01
8 BRABEC Ricky 48 USA Team HRC Honda +13’47
9 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 42 FRA Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +18’01
10 FARRES Gerard 23 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +26’46
11 BLYTHE Ian 106 USA ICO Racing Rally Pan Am KTM +30’02
12 METGE Adrien 61 FRA Honda South America Rally Team Honda +30’47
13 CERUTTI Jacopo 50 ITA HT Husqvarna Rally Team Husqvarna +31’19
14 VOGELS Hans 29 NDL Team Hans Vogels KTM +31’29
15 VERHOEVEN Frans 15 NDL Yamaha Netherlands Verhoeven Team Yamaha +39’04
16 CECI Paolo 32 ITA Team HRC Honda +1:02’53
17 METGE Michael 19 FRA Team HRC Honda DNS

Provisional Standings after Stage 10

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 34:49’04
2 SVITKO Stefan 5 SLO Slovnaft Team KTM +23’12
3 GONCALVES Paulo 2 POR Team HRC Honda +34’15
4 QUINTANILLA Pablo 4 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +42’49
5 MEO Antoine 49 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +44’04
6 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Honda South America Rally Team Honda +45’10
7 RODRIGUES Helder 7 POR Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +56’17
8 BRABEC Ricky 48 USA Team HRC Honda +1:12’08
9 FARRES Gerard 23 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +1:15’09
10 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 42 FRA Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +1:21’55
12 METGE Adrien 61 FRA Honda South America Rally Team Honda +2:58’49
32 CECI Paolo 32 ITA Team HRC Honda +7:56’41