Defending champion Toby Price’s dream of a second Dakar win has ended in tragedy. Longreach’s Rodney Faggotter is also out of the event.
Toby crashed 371km into today’s high altitude stage, breaking his left femur. He was evacuated by helicopter within 10 minutes and will not complete the rally.
He had taken the lead in the stage at the time of the crash.
As the riders crossed the border into Bolivia, yesterday’s stage winner and overall leader – Joan Barreda – was around two minutes ahead but lost time before the first waypoint in the second part of the stage, allowing Price to take the lead.
Price’s withdrawal handed the stage win to his teammate Matthias Walkner, who finished 2m2s ahead of Barreda. He is now 3rd overall.
That has reduced Barreda’s overall lead to 22m16s.
Although it is not clear yet what has happened, Rodney Faggotter’s Dakar is also over for 2017.
A Facebook post from Yamaha Racing says “In what’s been an eventful day for Yamaha Racing’s official team. Alessandro Botturi and Rodney Faggotter were unable to finish the stage and are forced to sit out the rest of the event.”
The remaining 2 Australians have had a reasonable day.
Todd Smith finished the stage 13th, 23m11s behind Walkner. That result places him 21st in the overall standings, a total of 1h37m2s behind the leader.
First time Dakar entrant Matthew Hart came in 54th today, moving him to a very credible 46th overall.
Italian Manuel Lucchesse continues his steady run. He is placed 76th overall after finishing 89th today.
Manuel is completing the Dakar in the “malle-moto” class, meaning that he has no support crew at all.
We spoke to Manuel last year about his preparation, and we’re watching his progress in this year’s event.
The 2017 Dakar continues tonight (Australian time) as the competitors continue through the high altitude Bolivian Altiplano, the world’s second highest plateau after Tibet.
While the competitors may be getting used to the altitude, the next stage is set to be one of the most demanding with wide variety in the terrain including two dune sectors.
The competitors will then take up residence in Oruro, Bolivia overnight.
Our very own Christophe Barriere-Varju knows just how tough the Dakar is, having competed 4 times himself.
The multi-award winning movie Dream Racer tracks Christophe’s progress through the event and is the purest footage you’ll ever see of the Dakar.
You can check out the movie at dreamracer.tv.
SBS continues its daily coverage of the Dakar today from 5.30pm to 6.00pm (check your local TV guides to confirm), and check in here at Motorcycle Life for regular updates.