After seeing Saturday’s stage cancelled, and with Sunday set on the schedule as a rest day, the 2017 Dakar Rally returned to racing-proper on Monday, with Stage 7.
Today’s special was originally conceived to be 322km long, but again the weather played a factor, and the timed section was cut down to just 160km. Sand dunes were the order of the day, which posed a challenge to some of the riders, both in navigation and time management.
For Honda, the day was very good, with American Ricky Brabec taking the day, followed closely his teammate Paulo Gonçalves. Sam Sunderland finished the day third, allowing him to maintain his overall lead in the standings. With three Hondas in the Top 5 though, the day truly goes to HRC.
Brabec’s win also continues the trend of a different rider winning each stage thus far of the 2017 Dakar Rally, an unusual circumstance in a race that usually sees a rider or two consistently rising above the rest of the field.
On that note, Xavier de Soultrait continues to impress on his Yamaha, fifth for the day, sixth overall, and still in the hunt for the overall win. Yamaha also can rely on Adrien van Beveren, who sits third overall, just behind Husqvarna’s Pablo Qunitanilla.
With three manufacturers in the Top 3, there will be a great deal of intrigue for the Dakar trophy, as we head into Argentina.
Monday night starts the marathon stage, meaning that only competitors can work on their machines in order to prep for Tuesday’s Stage 8. Without the help of their mechanics, we can expect some shake-up in Tuesday’s results from bike failures.