Today’s 10th stage of the 2017 Dakar was certainly filled with drama, and the leaderboard has had a major shake-up.
Australian’s Toby Smith and Matthew Hart both made it through today.
When we published our report this morning, Matthew still had not completed the stage but he posted to social media this afternoon saying it was the toughest day of riding of his life.
“15 hrs on the bike 45 degrees extremely rough terrain that didn’t allow you to sit for a rest.”
“Again the navigation was tough, throwing veterans with over 10 Dakars under their belt!”
Matthew was delayed for over an hour when he stopped to help a fellow rider.
“I was feeling ok up until the second special when I had to call in a chopper for an injured rider with spinal injuries.”
“I was with him for just over 1 hour in the sun and when I finally got going I had to deal with the dust from the cars trucks and slower bikes.”
Competitors are given back any time they spend assisting others, so Matthew has moved back up the rankings to 42nd in the stage and 48th overall.
Todd Smith’s 32nd placing today has put him in 21st position overall, just 7m52s outside the top 20.
Manuel Lucchese continues his steady run and has moved up the rankings again. He now sits 54th overall.
The day didn’t go so well for many of the top contenders.
Michael Metge originally won the stage but was handed a 1 hour penalty for missing a waypoint, gifting the stage win to Honda’s Joan Barreda.
With Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) out of the event, Stefan Svitko (KTM) uncertain of continuing and Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren dropping down the rankings after finishing 30 minutes off the pace, the KTM trio of Sunderland, Walkner and Farres Guell are now at the top of the rankings.
Joan Barreda currently sits in fifth place, 53m47s behind Sunderland.
However in a twist that is yet to play out, Honda has confirmed it is appealing the 1 hour penalties handed to its riders for refuelling in an unauthorised area on Stage 4.
With Barreda now within an hour of Sunderland in the overall standings, a successful appeal would put him back in the lead.
KTM rider Simon Marcic had a bad day as well, colliding with Peugeot’s Stephane Peterhansel just 83km into today’s stage.
The two were heading towards each other at a closing speed of around 100km/h and visibility was poor because of the terrain.
Despite braking hard, Marcic crashed into the Peugeot and went under the car, breaking his leg and ending his Dakar campaign.
There are 2 stages remaining in this year’s event.
Stage 11 will take the competitors from San Juan to Rio Cuarto, covering a distance of 754km through the final sand dune section about 50km into the special and the WRC like tracks of the Córdoba region.
You can also watch the movie Dream Racer, or buy the DVD/Blue Ray, at dreamracer.tv.
The multi-award winning movie tracks Christophe’s progress through the event and is the purest footage you’ll ever see of the Dakar.
It’s also one of the most inspiring films of all time.