Although there are plenty of new faces showing potential at Dakar this year, it was longtime frontrunner Joan Barreda who took the win in Stage 2, aboard the factory Honda.
The win was enough to put Barreda atop the standings, with almost a three-minute lead. He wasn’t expected to be as dominant, as the 267-km special was heavy on navigation, and one of the long-standing knocks against Barreda, rightly or wrongly, is that he’s not as strong on navigation as some of the other top riders. Regardless, despite the bikes starting behind the cars today, he still finished first in what was regarded as a bit of a rutted mess.
It was Barreda’s 20th stage win, which puts him in with some very elite company; only five other racers have more Dakar motorcycle stage wins, and every one of those guys has multiple championships. Barreda is still trying for his first championship, of course, and his media quotes this year seem to indicate he’s in a much more cautious headspace than previous years. That’s what it’ll take to win.
Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren took second on the stage, same as yesterday. He was a breakout star last year for the factory team, but seems to be resisting the urge to go balls-to-the-wall at the start this year; he says he wants to balance his riding between “going fast and not making any mistakes.” If he can pull that off well, he’s looking like he might be eligible for “alien” status before long.
The top five was rounded out by Matthias Walkner, Sam Sutherland and Pablo Quintanilla. Quintanilla complained of a stomach bug after the day’s riding was over, which is bad news. There’s usually some sort of nasty virus or flu burning its way through the paddock each year, which is the natural result of competitors from all over the world meeting up and sharing primitive hospitality services at various points of the event. But the illnesses typically pop up more at the end of the event, and already, several racers have mentioned some sort of flu symptoms. This isn’t MotoGP, where you can write off a weekend due to a virus and make up for it later. If you get sick at Dakar, you’ve got to ride it out, or go home.
Canadian rider Jack Lundin finished in 111th on the stage aboard his Husqvarna; the Dakar is a family affair for him, as his father raced in the early 2000s and managed two finishes. Lundin is the only Canuck to race Dakar on two wheels for some time, and we’ll keep an eye on his exploits this year.
By the way, if you want to catch Dakar coverage on TV, NBC Sports is once again shooting footage; check your local listings for showtimes.
Stage 2 Top 10
- Joan Barreda, Honda
- Adrien Van Beveren, Yamaha, + 00:02:54
- Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:04:24
- Michael Metge, Honda, + 00:04:39
- Kevin Benavides, Honda, + 00:05:43
- Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, + 00:05:45
- Sam Sunderland, KTM, + 00:06:01
- Xavier de Soultrait, Yamaha, + 00:06:12
- Franco Caimi, Yamaha, + 00:06:36
- Toby Price, KTM, + 00:06:40
Overall Top 10
- Joan Barreda, Honda
- Adrien Van Beveren, Yamaha + 00:02:30
- Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:04:50
- Sam Sunderland, KTM, + 00:05:04
- Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, + 00:05:44
- Xavier de Soultrait, Yamaha, + 00:06:22
- Kevin Benavides, Honda, +00:06:39
- Franco Caimi, Yamaha, + 00:07:10
- Michael Metge, Honda, + 00:07:33
- Toby Price, KTM, +00:09:04