Once again on top form, Joan Barreda picked up his 4th stage victory but will not be able to prevent Sam Sunderland from winning his first title on the Dakar tomorrow.
This was the last opportunity for the competitors to make the difference before a final sprint on Saturday. The start of the special was marked by the last dunes in the region of San Juan whilst the end of the stage near Córdoba gave pride of place to quick tracks perfectly suited to former rally drivers. Today was a last session of all out attack and a last opportunity to grab a place on the final podium…
With a one-hour time penalty in the first week, the official Honda riders most likely bitterly regret their infringement of the rules and have been at the forefront during the race’s second week. Ricky Brabec, Michael Metge, and Paulo Gonçalves well and truly hogged the limelight, but it was again Joan Barreda who triumphed in Rio Cuarto to get his third consecutive special stage victory.
Having occupied sixth place for a long time on the rally, Xavier de Soultrait has experienced a terrible end to the Dakar. After getting lost yesterday and losing almost one hour, the Frenchman, who had ambitions of winning at the start of the rally, was beset by engine problems on his Yamaha throughout the second part of the day, losing several hours. This evening, he will have dropped to below 20th place in the general standings.
“I think the gap is around thirty minutes. I’d like it to be three hours, but it’s better than thirty seconds”.