The 2016 Dakar Rally resumed after a day of rest in Salta, riders faced with 244 miles of timed special section en route to Belen. Stage 8 marked the first of this year’s rally to feature navigation through sand dunes, and for sophomore competitor Toby Price of Red Bull KTM, the day’s challenges weren’t enough to slow his impressive pace. The Australian grabbed his fourth stage victory of the 2016 Dakar and moved to the top of the overall standings. His primary competitor, Team HRC’s Paulo Goncalves, finished the day second-fastest and falls from the overall lead to second in the general classification. Rockstar Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla ended Stage 8 in third.
Stage 8’s timed portion was broken into two sections, the first more mountainous and rocky, the second marked by sand dunes and some of the most difficult navigational circumstances yet this year. KTM’s Antoine Meo, winner of Stage 7, opened the road but wasn’t quickest as riders passed through the first checkpoint. Goncalves came through CP1 with the fastest time, but had Price gaining ground in second position. Quintanilla was riding fast at this early point too, settling into third place.
Honda rider Kevin Benavides factored in the fight for the stage win as well, finishing the first portion of timed section as the fastest rider. The Argentinian rider was only atop the timesheet for a short period however, as Price came rocketing out of the gate in the second portion of timed section. The Australian led the way at CP2 with Gonclaves trailing more than two minutes back in second. Price continued to extend his advantage on the way to CP3 and in the final miles he was able to displace Goncalves as leader overall.
“The first part started out on big open roads and I think we dropped a little bit of time there,” explained Price in a team press release. “But just getting through it was a pretty fast track so we were looking forward to the second part where it was going to get more technical and more difficult. We did pretty well in the sand dunes and we pushed through the navigation.”
Price was aided, partly, by the fact that Goncalves suffered a brief off during the day. With damaged navigational equipment, the Portuguese rider was forced to slow his pace a bit but mitigated his losses, ceding only five minutes to Price in the overall classification.
“Today’s stage was typical of the type that we expect at the Dakar, with a lot of navigation,” said Goncalves in a Team HRC press release. “I fell in a bumpy, sandy area and luckily I didn’t get hurt but I damaged the instrument panel. I had to grip onto it with one hand and ride with the other for quite some kilometers. I’m happy to have not lost too much time. Tomorrow I will try and win it back.”
KTM rider Stefan Svitko ended in fourth-place, keeping himself third overall. Benavides finished fifth followed by Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues in sixth. After a slower start to the Dakar, Rodrigues has found a rhythm that has kept him within the top-10 overall, as he currently sits seventh, 30 minutes adrift of the leader.
American Ricky Brabec of Team HRC finished Stage 8 in 11th position, 16:44 behind the leader. The result moves him up to 11th overall in his inaugural Dakar.
“It was a tough day with the heat and with what we had waiting for us on the track,” said Brabec. “The first part was really fast and the second part was much more technical with a lot of navigation. I stopped to see if I could help out Michael (Metge), but when he saw that I wasn’t able to do a lot, he told me to carry on. (Metge suffered an electrical issue early in the stage that forced him to stop for a period.)
“The second part was really difficult with 90% of the navigation in soft sand. In the end I stopped to help a rider who had fallen. I’m happy to have finished well and tomorrow will be another day.”
2016 Dakar Rally Stage 8 Results
1. Toby Price (KTM) AUS – 4:33:14
2. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 4:38:31
3. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 4:39:46
4. Stefan Svitko (KTM) SVK – 4:41:16
5. Kevin Benavides (Honda) ARG – 4:41:20
6. Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) PRT – 4:42:20
7. Gerard Farrres Guell (KTM) ESP – 4:44:01
8. Antione Meo (KTM) FRA – 4:44:04
9. Juan Pedrero Garcia (Sherco TVS) ESP – 4:44:22
10. Adrien Van Bevern (Yamaha) FRA – 4:48:21
2016 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 8
1. Toby Price (KTM) AUS – 27:28:56
2. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) PRT – 27:31:01
3. Stefan Svitko (KTM) SVK – 27:43:10
4. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) CHL – 27:50:22
5. Kevin Benavides (Honda) ARG – 27:54:51
6. Antoine Meo (KTM) FRA – 27:57:40
7. Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) PRT – 27:59:47
8. Gerard Farres Guell (KTM) ESP – 28:06:28
9. Juan Pedrero Garcia (Sherco TVS) ESP – 28:08:37
10. Alain Duclos (Sherco TVS) FRA – 28:14:07
- Yamaha Junior Rally Team's Adrian Van Bevern was the fastest Yamaha in Stage 4, finishing 13th.
- Toby Price regained ground in Stage 4, finishing fifth fastest and moving to seventh overall.
- Team HRC teammates Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves.
- Ruben Faria was second-fastest in Stage 4 and moves to fifth overall.