The two remaining Australians in the 2017 Dakar put in another strong performance in Stage 8 today.
Todd Smith finished 19th in the stage on his KTM while newcomer Matthew Hart (Husqvarna) managed 39th place just 40m33s behind stage winner Joan Barreda (Honda).
Barreda once again went out hard trying to recover time after most of the leading Honda riders were hit with a 1 hour penalty last week.
At the end of today’s stage he was in 9th place overall and still just over 1h10m behind overall leader Sam Sunderland (KTM), and that gap is going to be very hard to close.
Sunderland holds a 20m58s lead over Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) and Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren holds down third in the overall rankings.
Sunderland’s teammate, Matthias Walkner, finished today’s stage in second place with a time just 3 seconds faster than Sunderland and that has moved him up to 4th overall.
Today’s stage was once again altered due to weather conditions.
It was already going to be a tough one being the second part of a marathon stage and the teams had not had been allowed to service the bikes overnight.
Despite that, 108 of the 110 bikes that started the stage made it through.
Spaniard Oscar Romero and Guillaume Chollet from France, both on Yamaha’s, were the two withdrawals.
Our friend Manuel Lucchese is continuing to move up in the placings – he now sits 57th outright.
Manuel has taken on this year’s event in the “malle-moto” class and is competing without a support crew.
Our very own Christophe Barriere-Varju knows what that’s like.
You can watch the movie, or buy the DVD/Blue Ray, at dreamracer.tv.
It’s the purest footage you’ll ever see of the Dakar, and one of the most inspiring films of all time.