Stage 10 of the 2017 Dakar rally showed what a wild ride the race can be; there were big winners and big losers, and it almost made up for all the canceled and shortened stages so far.
Honda’s Michael Metge posted the day’s lowest time, but picked up an hour’s penalty for missing a hidden waypoint. That put his teammate Joan Barreda on top for the day, and what a day it was for Barreda — several of his competitors were hit by terrible luck, and Bam Bam took a huge jump in the standings. He’s riding at a whole new level: fast, with smart navigation, and no crashes, and looks like he could be the man to beat next year.
The worst luck award probably goes to Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna). Quintanilla was favoured by many to win this year’s race; he finished on the podium at every rally he attended in 2016, and was the FIM’s cross country rally champion. Today, he got very, very lost, then crashed, hit his head, and had to drop out. Going into today, he’d been in second place overall, and certainly looked like he could challenge for first.
Stefan Svitko (KTM), always a top-10 threat, ended up needing medical attention as well (dehydration; he still ended up second on the day), and Honda’s Ricky Brabec had a double whammy: first, his engine reportedly blew up, and then he ended up unconscious on the course (likely dehydration again). It’s always a waiting game to see which manufacturer’s engines start to blow up first, and it seems Big Red might have earned the dubious award again this year. It’s no coincidence KTM wins year after year after year; their rally bikes just hold together longer.
Svitko and Brabec are both back in the race now, after medical attention.
Yamaha teammates Adrien Van Beveren and Xavier de Soultrait both finished well back today, and race leader Sam Sunderland (KTM) was 12th on the day.
The result of all that carnage? Sunderland still leads by a half hour; Walkner’s in second, and David Farres Guell is in third, just under 39 minutes back. Van Beveren has slipped off the podium to fourth, and now Barreda is breathing down his neck in fifth place.
A prominent motorcycle racer from the past also came back to haunt this year’s motorcycle race; car driver Stefan Peterhansel (who’s also a Dakar legend for his wins on Yamaha’s bikes) struck rider Simon Marcic on the course, breaking Marcic’s leg.
Overall, it might sound like negative news to have bad fortune hit so many riders in one day. But, just the opposite is true. Dakar’s draw is its unpredictability; while it’s easy to predict the fastest riders, it’s impossible to predict the bad luck that can hit them at any time. The randomness of it all means the race avoids being processional. And if a front-runner is taken out, it just means a younger rider, or someone from a smaller team, is given the chance to step forward, making things all the more interesting.
Stage 10 results
1). Barreda, Honda,
2). Svitko, KTM, +00:00:24
3). Caimi, Honda, +00:03:48
4). Renet, Husqvarna, +00:04:21
5). Rodrigues, Yamaha, +00:05:46
6). Cervantes Montero, KTM, +00:07:15
7). Metge, Sherco, +00:08:18
8). Goncalves, Honda, +00:08:43
9). Klymciw, Husqvarna, +00:09:22
10). Walkner, KTM, +00:12:53
1). Sunderland, KTM
2). Walkner, KTM, +00:30:01 (00:05:00 penalty)
3). Farres Guell, KTM, +00:38:43
4). Van Beveren, Yamaha, +00:41:57
5). Barreda, Honda, +00:53:47, (01:01:00 penalty)
6). Renet, Husqvarna, +00:55:24
7). Goncalves, Honda, +01:00:11 (00:48:20 penalty)
8). de Soultrait, Yamaha, +01:32:55 (00:09:00 penalty)
9). Caimi, Honda, +01:37:57 (01:05:00 penalty)
10). Svitko, KTM, +01:48:45 (01:00:00 penalty)