A dazzling performance by Kevin Benavides earns the Argentinean the overall leadership of the Dakar Rally on his Honda CRF450 of the Monster Energy Honda Team. It was a dreadful sixth stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally, which brings with it a well-deserved rest day for the competitors in the capital of La Paz, Bolivia. Today’s 313-kilometre special stage against the clock was not completed in full after race authorities deemed the first stretch unsafe for racing. Riders had moved on from Peru into Bolivia by the picturesque Lake Titicaca, the highest lake above sea level. However, things were far from idyllic. The assistance vehicles ran into rain and snow in the mountain passes which clogged up the entrance to La Paz. Nevertheless, thousands of fans were there to greet the huge Dakar entourage’s arrival.
Joan Barreda got to open the track today on fast, slippery, water-drenched tracks which caused several riders some big scares. The Spaniard came a cropper after losing the front end in a puddle. Fortunately it turned out to have no consequences other than soaking the rider. Once the instruments and goggles were cleaned, Barreda was back in the fray. Barreda finished marginally behind conceding 3’30” to the day’s winner Antoine Méo.
Monster Energy Honda Team comrade-in-arms Kevin Benavides also ended up on the ground, but managed to limit the damage before posting second on the day, which elevates the Argentinean rider to the top of the overall leader board with a two-minute advantage over the second placed rider.
It was a tricky day also today for Michael Metge, Ricky Brabec and José Ignacio Cornejo, who were all held up and likewise, experienced some close calls out on the track.
Tomorrow, La Paz plays host to the usual rest day, where the riders finally get a lay-in and a chance to recharge the batteries, as they prepare for the second week of the competition. The mechanics will review the Honda CRF450 RALLY to have them in tip-top shape for stage seven, the first part of the first marathon stage of this Dakar 2018.
Benavides said: “I am very proud because it is the first time that an Argentine rider has led the Dakar Rally. I’m very happy too, because the idea was to get as high up the rankings as possible before the rest stage, so I can not be happier. I’m a little tired, we’ve had rain, mud, fast roads. But I was fast and felt comfortable on the bike. Now we have a day to rest and prepare the second week.”
Stage 6 Results
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 6