How fortunes change in the Dakar Rally. Within three kilometres of stage 10’s end in Argentina, race leader Adrien Van Beveren crashes out of the race lead, handing control to Matthias Walkner.
Starting stage 10, KTM’s hopes of a 17th consecutive Dakar Rally victory looked troubled as Van Beveren and his Yamaha WR450F looked strong out front.
But come the end of the stage, Van Beveren was out of the race following a monster crash and Walkner was leading by almost 40 minutes.
Proof that nothing is certain, stage 10 was one of them Dakar days.
Photo Credit: PhotosDakar.com
Argentina bites hard
The Dakar contested its first stage in Argentina this year and also encountered much warmer temperatures than in recent days, with almost 40°C in the shade.
The danger was that this could tire the competitors on the vast sandy terrain covering the first part of the special and then rob them of their lucidity when tackling the last part, in which tricky navigation through river beds had pride of place.
The bike race has probably been decided in the river beds of Belén. When they strayed almost 10 km from the right track for more than 50 minutes, Kevin Benavides, Toby Price, Antoine Meo, Stefan Svitko, Joan Barreda and Ricky Brabec perhaps lost all hope of overall victory in Córdoba.
The leader of the general standings this morning, Adrien Van Beveren, most definitely has. He was set to make significant gains but exited the rally after a high-speed fall just three kilometres from the finishing line.
Walkner finds his way
Matthias Walkner, the sole survivor of the day’s upheavals, obtained a big stage victory and now leads his nearest pursuer by 39 minutes in the general standings.
“It’s always good to take a stage win, but never nice when one of your opponents crashes out. I hope Adrien (Van Beveren) is ok.
“I knew today how important it would be to bide my time and concentrate on finding each waypoint successfully. Better to spend a few seconds getting things right than pushing on, wasting a lot more time after getting lost.
“When the tracks from the guys in front disappeared, I got a little worried that I had made a mistake, but I carried on and trusted myself. It was a big relief when I saw the waypoint validated and I reached the finish.”
Photo Credit: PhotosDakar.com
Van Beveren’s title hopes end
For Van Beveren, his rally ends with a broken collarbone, as Yamaha’s team manager Alexandre Kowalski confirms…
“Following the first medical checks at the hospital, it seems that Adrien has suffered a broken collarbone. He will remain under close supervision and tomorrow we will have more solid info.”
No luck for Benavides brothers
The Benavides brothers had high hopes at the start in Salta, their home town. Having led for the first 242 kilometres of the stage with a considerable lead over his rivals, Kevin Benavides bombed spectacularly by following the wrong river bed on the last part of the special.
Instead of grabbing a victory, which seemed to be there for the taking and climbing to the top of the general standings, the Argentinean now trails the new leader of the provisional classification by 41 minutes this evening.
As for his brother Luciano, he was in the process of securing his first top 10 finish on the Dakar, but fell heavily and will not complete his first attempt at the rally.
Robert LynnEnduro21 Editorrobert@future7media.com