After Tuesday’s unforgiving stage a number of broken riders and drivers turned up to the start line of the 280km ‘Super Fiambalá’ special from Belén to Chilecito.
The stage proved largely uneventful for many of the leading contenders in the car category but plenty of drama unfolded elsewhere.
Tomorrow (Thursday) is the second marathon stage. With tiring bodies, the bike riders have to tackle a 375km special stage with the car drivers enduring 523km on the way to San Juan.
Dutchman Bernhard ten Brinke held off a trio of charging Team Peugeot Total cars to win his second stage of the race in the Toyota.
Cyril Despres safely brought home title contenders Carlos Sainz and Stéphane Peterhansel with Nasser Al-Attiyah finishing one minute further back.
Sainz, who still tops the overall standings by 50 minutes, said: “It was demanding and difficult. I have lost two rallies on this stage and had many problems, in 2009 I was leading and finished in a hole so I was happy to finish.”
After the disappointment of Tuesday’s navigational error, 2016 champion Toby Price attacked from the off and clinched a first stage win of the race.
The Australian was leading as early as 48km into the stage and held off Kevin Benavides and teammate Antoine Meo for the victory. Matthias Walkner still holds a commanding overall lead while rival Joan Barreda, who was second in the GC, retired from the race after 100km.
Price said: “It wasn’t the result we wanted yesterday and today we needed to claw back a bit of time, which we have done. There is still a long way to go.”
Yamaha rider Nicolás Cavigliasso has been a revelation since the race entered his home country, the Argentine enjoying a second consecutive stage win. Ignacio Casale followed him over the line 15 minutes behind but still comfortably leads the race.
Eduard Nikolaev has dominated this Dakar since the start in Peru, but he leads no more after a difficult stage in which he lost more than 40 minutes to new race leader Federico Villagra. Siarhei Viazovich won his maiden stage but it was the Argentine Villagra who profited the most from the Russian’s demise and he now takes a 16-minute lead into the final stages.
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of Red Bull Media