Stage 9 of the 2016 Dakar Rally proved to be a hellish one, which ultimately saw race officials shortening the day’s route, even though some riders had completed the full-stage distance. The course shortening came about because temperatures reached 113°F (45°C), leaving the ASO no choice but to end Stage 9 at the second checkpoint.
From CP2, riders were sent straight to their bivouac, where they began their second marathon stage. As such, they will not have the benefit of their team mechanics to make adjustments and repairs to their machines for Stage 10.
This fact could be very significant for HRC, since their day was especially difficult, as Paulo Gonçalves suffered a punctured radiator, and lost significant time to KTM’s Toby Price.
The good news for HRC is that Paolo Ceci was able to tow Gonçalves’s bike to CP2, which meant he finished the stage because of the shortened course. The bad news though is that Gonçalves’s engine seized from a lack of cooling, and will require significant work before tomorrow’s start.
With the marathon stage, Gonçalves will have to rely on his teammates to help him repair the Honda CRF450 Rally race bike. Honda says it is far from throwing in the towel on the situation, though they have a difficult road ahead of them.
Despite this attitude, the 2016 Dakar Rally is essentially now Price’s to lose, with only a couple more days of solid racing remaining.