Dakar 2019 Stage Eight
San Juan de Marcona > Pisco – Jan 15th
Dakar Rally leader Ricky Brabec set off from San Juan de Marcona pushing to become the first American to win the race. However, the Honda rider suffered heartbreak after only 56km as his engine gave way, bringing an end to his hopes.
Dubbed the ‘Super Ica’, stage eight pitted the fastest 10 bikes, 10 cars and the top five trucks from the previous day together, setting off at three-minute intervals according to their stage seven results. At 360 kilometres, the timed special was the longest of the event and took competitors over fast, open pistes for the first half, before once again challenging them with the mountainous sand dunes of the Ica desert.
Toby Price put in another stunning performance on stage eight, leading on time right up until the final two checkpoints. Crossing the line in an eventual third position has elevated Price to overall leader in the provisional standings. But with just one minute separating the top two riders after close to 30 hours of racing, the Australian rider knows he still has to keep fighting right to the finish as he bids to reclaim the title he first won in 2016. The wrist he broke in the lead up to Dakar 2019 is giving him plenty of curry now, but the 31-year-old is determined to push through.
Dakar 2019 – Stage Eight Video
Toby Price – Stage P3 – Overall P1
“I knew today had to count so I gave it everything – the wrist is really starting to sting now! It was a long special at 360 kilometres but I got through it and I’m pleased with how the whole stage went. Just two days left so I’ll get some rest tonight and attack again tomorrow. When the helmet goes on, you know I’m just going to do the best I can.”
Pablo Quintanilla posted the second best time for the day. Gaining an impressive three positions in the overall, Pablo is now second and less than two-minutes behind new Dakar provisional outright leader Toby Price.
Pablo Quintanilla – Stage P2- Overall P2
“Everything went according to plan for me today. After the mass start in the morning I found myself racing alone for some time, before starting to catch up with the riders from the first wave. Today’s stage was not easy. It was physically and mentally tough but I did my best pushing all the way to the finish. We’re nine days into this race and we’re all starting to feel the effects of these tough stages on our bodies. I’m really happy with where I’m at in the overall. The gap with Toby is small and we still have two more days of racing. I will try to stick to my plan and continue giving 100% until the end of the race.”
Following his top-10 result from stage seven, Matthias Walkner set off with not only nine bikes ahead of him, but also two cars driven by Dakar legends Stephane Peterhansel and Nani Roma. Navigating well through the dust kicked up by the vehicles in front, as well as the fog that had descended on the stage, the reigning Dakar Champion steadily upped his pace as the day went on to ultimately post the fastest time, just pipping team-mate Price and Husqvarn’a Pablo Quintanilla for the stage win. With positions closing up at the top of the overall standings, Walkner now lies third, six minutes and 30 seconds behind teammate Price.
Matthias Walkner – Stage P1 – Overall P3
“Good day for me today, I really tried to push all day long. Starting with the cars was not so bad this morning, a couple caught me on the fast pistes, but I passed them back again when we hit the dunes. I got to the refuelling and saw that Toby had made some time so I knew I had to really go for it in the sand. I had a couple of small crashes in the fesh-fesh, it was really foggy and a lot of the time you couldn’t really see too well ahead of you. I was happy with my riding today and everything is going well so we’ll see what the next two days bring.”
Set to open the special today due to his win on the previous day’s stage seven, Sam Sunderland was forced to delay his start when his on-bike tracker failed. Slotting in further down the order meant the British rider also had vehicles in front of him to deal with as he progressed through the stage. Nevertheless, pushing hard Sunderland posted the fourth fastest time and now sits fourth overall in the provisional rally standings.
Sam Sunderland – Stage P4 – Overall P4
“I’m happy with my riding today but it’s been a tough one and I’m not sure if an issue at the start will cost me some time. My Iritrack wasn’t working and I had to get that fixed before I set off. It meant I was behind a car at the beginning of the stage and the dust from that combined with the fog made things very tricky. After that I just pushed on as best I could to the end. Day eight is ticked off now, but I’m sure there’s plenty more excitement to come.”
Starting Tuesday’s special stage among the first wave of competitors, Adrien Van Beveren launched an attack with the goal of moving even higher in the provisional overall rankings. Pushing hard from start to finish, he struggled with the stage’s demanding navigation and ended up losing some time to his main rivals.
Posting the sixth best time for the day, Van Beveren is currently placed fifth in the event’s provisional overall standings. Determined to keep the battle going, Adrien is now less than 10-minutes behind the provisional overall leader with two stages still to be contested.
Adrien Van Beveren – Stage P6 – Overall P5
“Today I decided to attack more than any of the previous stages and it didn’t work to my advantage. The race is very intense and I knew that if I didn’t attack my chances for the win would be possibly less. Navigation was tricky and I lost time trying to find some waypoints. At the end of the day, I lost a little bit more than 10 minutes to the leaders. It’s not exactly the result I was looking for, but we’re not done yet. My day might not have been so good, but we still have two stages to go. I will continue giving my best until we cross the finish line in Lima.”
Kevin Benavides is now Honda’s final real hope for Dakar victory after rally leader Ricky Brabec was left to rue what could have been when his engine let go early in stage eight. Other top Honda hopes Joan Barreda went out on stage three after a crash left him unable to continue, while Paulo Goncalves crashed heavily on stage five to go out of the Rally. Benavides is currently sixth outright.
Kevin Benavides- Stage P9 – Overall P6
“Today the stage was complicated because I wasn’t able to validate a waypoint. It was a point which wasn’t visible but should have been very easy to find as it was just down a mountain as you entered the beach. I was at the right point and but the waypoint wouldn’t open. I went through there a thousand times and nothing showed up. I stopped Joaquim Rodrigues, he had it validated and I was at the same point and it wouldn’t go on to the next waypoint. Several other riders passed and after I stopped Michael Metge before the point and told him if I could follow him to see if it registered. Finally it did but I had already passed through many times. The organization has seen that I went through there many times. Now we have to wait and see what they will tell us about it. It’s a pity about Ricky, he was having a great race and we could have both battled until the end. I send him all my best.”
Raul Castells – Monster Energy Honda Team Manager
“Unfortunately, days like today, we have experienced before. These are things that can happen in motor sports and that, far from bringing us down will serve to strengthen us as a team because we will continue to fight for our goals, even if they are distant. Ricky was having an incredible race and I’m sure he will come back, even stronger if it is possible, to continue fighting for the number one spot. Likewise, I’d like to point out the great stage that Nacho Cornejo rode today having opened the track all day, but also that of Kevin, who had some problems with the navigation tools that we hope can be solved. We will keep fighting until the end.”
Ricky Brabec – DNF
“It was a really hard day. There was nothing really positive about my day, especially for the race. The coolest part was getting a helicopter ride along the beach and back. It’s heart-wrenching. Not easy. We have to go home, take a break and come back. I’m at a loss for words. It was amazing to be on the top for the previous days. It’s really nice to have the team support me and the whole team. It felt like the vibes and the confidence in me were good. That helped me to achieve so many great days.”
Going from strength-to-strength in this year’s Dakar, Andrew Short put in another strong performance on Tuesday to secure a solid fifth place result in stage eight. The second Husqvarna mounted rider inside the top 10, Andrew is currently seventh in the event’s provisional overall standings.
Andrew Short – Stage P5 – Overall P7
“It was interesting to start the stage alongside the cars. A few kilometres into the stage I got passed by Nani Roma’s car and he was going really fast on the roads. But then once it got bumpy I was able to pass him and do my own race. After the fuel stop we entered the dunes and they were massive. I got to ride alongside a few other riders and our pace was good. Today there were lots of riders struggling with bike issues or making mistakes in navigation. For me personally I felt really good. I was going as hard as I could for most of the stage and for the last 30 kilometres I felt fatigued so decided to keep it steady. I’m trying to get better on every stage and every day and that’s what matters the most for me.”
Feeling strong in his Yamaha WR450F Rally machine since the start of the event, Xavier de Soultrait entered stage eight looking for another good result. Battling through the stage’s technical terrain and demanding navigation Xavier claimed a 10th place result for the day.
Moving up to eighth in the provisional overall standings, the Frenchman remains optimistic that he can climb even higher in the overall results to bring his gruelling adventure in Peru to a successful close.
Xavier de Soultrait – Stage P10 – Overall P8
“It was another long and difficult day in the fesh-fesh and the sand. My bike has been running great since the start of this rally and this gives me extra confidence to push. My results from these last couple of stages have made it harder for me to battle for the podium in Lima. Nevertheless, I will continue my battle until the end. We still have two long stages to race and my goal is to get as high as possible in the overall. I remain calm and I’m ready for the penultimate stage tomorrow. This Dakar has been a great experience for all and we will keep working hard until we reach Lima.”
Claiming seventh on Tuesday’s stage, Luciano Benavides had another great day. With his skill and confidence increasing with each day of racing, the popular Argentinian continues to move up the order in the provisional standings. Benavides now sits ninth overall with two days left to race.
Luciano Benavides – Stage P7 – Overall P9
“Today was tough again – another long 360 kilometres. Overall it was good for me, although I did lose a little time near the beginning of the stage in the fog. I had to remove my goggles to see properly and that slowed me up a little. Andrew (Short) caught me and we rode together for the next 200 kilometres. We had a good time in the dunes, with each one of us taking the lead from time to time. The stage seemed to flow really well and I had a lot of fun.”
Successfully completing another day inside the top 20, Laia Sanz was as impressive as ever on the long stage eight. Intelligently deciding to ease off her pace early on in the far from perfect conditions, Laia was then able to push harder onboard her KTM 450 Rally to ultimately post the 19th fastest time of the day. The Spaniard now sits an excellent 13th place overall in the provisional standings.
Laia Sanz – Stage P19 – Overall P13
“Today was a very long and tough day. For the first part of the stage I kept to a steadier rhythm. With the fesh-fesh and fog it made things very tricky and I didn’t want to make any mistakes. As we got to the dunes, I started to enjoy things a lot more and was able to push. The goal is as always, take things day by day and get safely to the finish.”
Wednesday’s stage nine of the 2019 Dakar marks the second of the two mass-starts at the rally. In another looped stage, riders will leave Pisco and cover a total of 409 kilometres, 313 kilometres of which is timed special, before returning to the coastal town.
2019 Dakar Rally
Provisional Results Stage Eight
- WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM 03:55’25
- QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna +00’45
- PRICE Toby AUS KTM +01’13
- SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM +06’21
- SHORT Andrew USA Husqvarna +09’51
- VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha +11’48
- BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM +12’51
- CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Honda +13’48
- BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Honda +15’07
- DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha +15’50
2019 Dakar Rally Outright Standings after Stage Eight
- PRICE Toby AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory 28:53’08
- QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory +01’03
- WALKNER Matthias AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory +06’35
- SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory +06’38
- VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Official Rally Team +09’54
- BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda +21’41
- SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory +39’27
- DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha Official Rally Team +46’17
- BENAVIDES Luciano ARG Red Bull KTM Rally Factory +01:04’24
- CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda +01:05’44