Moo-over! Toby Price took advantage of the 275-kilometre long special to let his speed do the talking and pick up a very convincing win in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina.
*Update 2: 20:27GMT Jan 3*
With a lead of more than three minutes over his nearest pursuers, the defending Dakar champ now has a solid advantage in the general standings.
- Toby Prices wins his first stage of Dakar 2017
- He moves almost three minutes clear in the general standings
- Initially 2nd, Matthias Walkner recieved a 5-minute penalty
- Price & Barreda reported of cows trackside
- Julian Kozac was fastest of the Malles Moto
- Stage 2 timed special was 275km
While the competitors are now in a country well known to the Dakar as they visit Argentina for the ninth consecutive year, the region of Chaco had not yet been explored by the rally. The participants discovered narrow tracks which kicked up plenty of dust in a setting reminiscent of the African Savannah.
Special attention was required concerning the many wild animals and flooded fords. Furthermore, the heat sorely tested the competitors' bodies on this first long stage on the Dakar Dakar 2017.
Toby Price gave a show of force and has not waited long to stamp his authority on the 2017 edition.
“It was a really, really fast stage but with no navigation,” told Price. “We had a 274km special at 38 or 40°C, so it's definitely been a hot one on the bike.
“It was really crazy. There were a lot of cows. You're going along this roads that aren't more than a car width's wide and if a cow steps out from behind one of the trees or the bushes it's not going to be too pretty, but you've already got enough to do than think about that when you're on the bike in the middle of the stage.
“It’s only when you're sitting here right now you just think that was really wild. We have more kangaroos back home than cows, but I'd rather pick on a kangaroo a little bit more than a cow, but all in all, I got through it.”
The Australian won the stage with a lead of more than three minutes over his team-mate Matthias Walkner and almost four minutes over Paulo Goncalves. However a subsequent five-minute penatly drops Walkner down to 11th in the general rankings.
“This is the first big stage of the Dakar 2017," said Goncalves. "It was 280 km of a fast stage with a lot of danger, particularly the first 80 km, with too much danger that wasn't really well shown in the road-book.
“I tried to go fast but take care because it's too soon… it's always too soon to make mistakes, but especially on the second stage of the Dakar.”
Xavier de Soultrait — special stage one winner — also put in a solid performance with the day's third best time.
Fourth on the day's stage, Sam Sunderland puts his KTM into third overall in the general standnings.
Joan Barreda, third at CP3, came into difficulty over the last kilometres of the day's route. In the end, the Honda rider lost more than six minutes to Price finishing 9th behind Pablo Quintanilla (5th), Stefan Svitko (6th), Ricky Brabec (7th) and Alessandro Botturi (8th).
“Today was good. At the beginning on the tracks there were a lot of dangers. In the second part I decided to keep calm and arrive at the finish more slowly. I'm happy with today's performance. Today was a bigger stage with a lot of kilometres, but small differences, so finally we are in a good position”.
Franco Caimi was the fastest rookie in 21st. Laia Sanz stopped the clock 24th fastest. It wasn’t such a good day for Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues when came home 31st.
Ending the stage 34th, Julian Kozac was fastest of the Malles Moto (no assistance) category. Four places behind in 39th Lyndon Poskitt was second with Toomas Trisa third in 44th overall.
Photo: ASO/A.Vialatte, Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool
Provisional Results - General Classification After Stage 2