Dakar Stage 9: Pisco - Pisco

The penultimate stage brought about success and heartbreak in equal measure

THE DAKAR MAY BE almost over, but the gruelling challenge and cruel hand of fate hasn’t let up.

Yesterday saw Yamaha’s Van Beveren leave the race 15km from the stage finish after suffering an oil leak followed by engine failure. After consistent speed and solid navigation throughout the Rally, this was a heart-breaking twist of fate for the 28-year-old Frenchman. His exit came just a day after race leader Ricky Brabec suffered a similar issue, ending Honda’s first hope of a Dakar win in 30 years.

Collapsed next to his bike in tears, Van Beveren commented: “No words. So much effort, one year of work, a complete reconstruction, and to stop now. We say that in life the wheel turns, but now it just isn’t turning in the right way for me.”

According to French publication La Voix Du Nord, Van Beveren made a last ditch attempt at finishing the stage by enlisting the help of Peruvian spectators, loading his bike into their pick-up and hitching a lift to the finish line, crossing it in 70th place, 3h 30m behind stage winner Michael Metge.

However, Van Beveren’s rescue was against the rules, and so he was handed a DNF, ruling him out of the Rally.

Meanwhile, KTM’s Sam Sunderland raced a promising stage, but suffered heavily from the 1hr penalty that he received as the result of a faulty fuse crashing his Iritrack system. Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides was also slapped with a penalty – his of three-hours – for unsportsmanlike behaviour after carrying concealed extra route notes.

Yesterday’s stage comprised a 60 mile (96km) liaison and 194 mile (313km) special, with a mass motocross start and following a tricky loop around the dunes of Pisco.

Frenchman Michael Metge, racing for Sherco TVS, took his first win at 3h 46m 38s, while Bolivian Daniel Nosiglia Jager took his first top ten finish, arriving just two minutes behind Metge. In the general classification Metge sits in 22nd and Jager in 10th. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla was the only consistency in yesterday’s top three, taking third, 3m 28s behind Metge and just 1 second ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price and Matthais Walkner.

Price entered today’s final stage in first, just 1m 2s ahead of Husqvarna’s Quintanilla, meaning the victory is potentially within reach for either of them. Also with a shot is Walkner at just 6m 35s behind Price.

In fourth is also a Husqvarna – that of Andrew Short, 40 minutes off the general lead. While anything can yet happen, it looks like KTM machinery will be taking yet another Dakar title tonight.

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