After rain came sunshine for Benavides.  Figuratively then.

After rain came sunshine for Benavides. Figuratively then. © EPA-EFE

Kevin Benavides (KTM) has won the penultimate stage in the motorcycle race. He had to give up the day before, but this morning he could start again with the necessary penalty time. Successfully.


Yesterday at 15:02

It was a narrow victory for Benavides who was only 4 seconds ahead of Sam Sunderland (KTM) on arrival. A strong performance from the Brit who once again takes over the lead from Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha). The Frenchman lost 21’33” on Thursday and drops to fourth place in the standings.

The penultimate stage at the motorcycles turned the standings upside down once again. Toby Price (KTM), Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna), Joan Barreda (Honda) and Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha), who started the stage in that order on Thursday morning, were all outside the top 20 after 257 km. The reason was the difficult navigation .

Kevin Benavides started 39th after his withdrawal from Wednesday to Thursday. It was a tactical decision to assist his teammate Matthias Walkner (KTM) if needed. Walkner started 26th, Sunderland 17th. And those starting positions did them no harm. Walkner was the best after 43km before Sam Sunderland took over the lead. It looked like the Briton would win the stage, but that was not counting Benavides. In an ultimate sprint, the Argentinian won the stage and was 4 seconds faster than Sunderland. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) finished third at 2’26” ahead of Matthias Walkner who finished fourth. The loser of the day, and perhaps also of the Dakar, is the Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren. He finished at 21’33” from Benavides.

In the overall standings on the eve of Friday’s finish in Jeddah, Sam Sunderland is the new leader of the Dakar with a 6’52” lead over Quintanilla (Honda) and 7’15” over Walkner. Van Beveren is in 4th place, 15’30” behind leader Sunderland. Joan Barreda occupies 5th place, 27’54” behind the British rider. A GasGas, a Honda and a KTM are within a span of barely more than 7 minutes. With just over 15 minutes behind, the official Yamaha rider will start 15th in the final 164km special, while the three riders ahead of him will start grouped in the top 6 in the overall standings. It is far from done for the overall victory or for the podium. The final stage of the 44th edition of the Dakar will be decisive. (Belgian)

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