If there’s one thing that’s certain about the Dakar Rally it is that nothing is certain.
You can be leading at the beginning of the day, and just five hours later be asking yourself what the heck just happened. Just ask Toby Price.
Price had taken the stage win and overall lead in the rally yesterday, but that all fell apart very quickly on today’s second stage.
By the first waypoint, just 46km into the special stage, Price had dropped over five minutes and 35 positions.
The Red Bull KTM rider’s slide backwards through the field continued throughout the rest of the day, finally coming in 32 minutes behind a hard charging Joan Barreda.
A small navigation error cost him some time, and like many riders Toby Price struggled in some of the dunes.
But it was a fuel issue that cost price the most time.
“I had to keep switching between the fuel pumps and try and keep the thing running a little bit”, Toby has explained.
Despite the loss of time and position, he definitely considers himself to still be in the race.
And this is true – we’ve seen it many times where riders lose time early in the event and then work their way back up through the field, often to a final podium.
“We’re at another finish line so I’m happy!”, he says.
The same can’t be said for his Red Bull KTM teammate Matthias Walkner.
After a strong third position yesterday Walkner was stranded for over two hours with a clutch and gearbox issue. He managed to fix the problem and continue but is now way down the order and technically out of contention in the rally.
While the KTM factory riders were dropping back, the Honda riders were taking control.
Joan Barreda took the lead at the 46km waypoint and never looked like losing it. Along with his Monster Energy Honda teammate Ricky Brabec, he had lost over 15 minutes through navigation errors yesterday but that certainly wasn’t going to happen today.
The stage win is Barreda’s 25th special stage victory on the Dakar, equalling fellow Spaniard Mark Coma’s record and placing him fourth in the all-time ranking of special stage victories in the bike category.
Brabec finished today second, 3 minutes and 55 seconds behind Barreda, with Pablo Quintanilla third.
The Monster Energy Yamaha factory team had mixed results today.
American rider Andrew Short was struck down with a mechanical failure and is now out of the rally. He stopped after 273km of the special stage and was not able to fix the problem with the bike. Convinced it was terminal, he decided not to wait for help from his assistance team and was airlifted from the stage by one of the organiser’s helicopters.
New team recruit Ross Branch started today from 14th position but by the first waypoint was up to 6th. He continued his climb through the field, even being in second place at one point, before finishing 4th today.
So at the end of the second stage, the overall placings are:
- 1. Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda)
- 2. Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) +0:06:23
- 3. Ross Branch (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0:06:37
- 4. Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) +0:07:16
- 5. Xavier De Soultrait (HT Rally Raid Husqvarna) +0:08:25
- 15. Toby Price (Red Bull KTM) +0:17:39
- 18. Daniel Sanders (KTM Factory) +0:21:11
- 42. Michael Burgess (BAS Dakar KTM Racing) +1:49:00
- 63. Pablo Guillen (Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure) +3:52:19
- 68. Andrew Houlihan (Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure) +4:26:09
So that’s lots of Monster and Rockstar Energy in the top 5 but not a drop of Red Bull in sight!
Motorcycle Life is supporting Andrew Houlihan and Pablo Guillen in their rookie year at the 2021 Dakar Rally.
Andrew is also posting a daily diary on Speedcafe.