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2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead

Author: Garry Morrow

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2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
Brit Sam Sunderland rebounded from a bad day yesterday were a failed rear brake cost him big time to take the win on today's 7th stage. Photo: Marcin Kin
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing‰Ûªs Sam Sunderland has posted the fastest time on day seven of the 2019 Dakar Rally ahead of Honda duo Jose Ignacio Cornejo and Ricky Brabec.

Coming from behind and chasing down the leading riders on the tricky stage, the Brit also narrowed his gap in the overall standings. Ricky Brabec jumped back into the general classification lead after a bad day for previous leader Pablo Quintanilla saw him plummet down to fifth. Yamaha's Adrien Van Beveren made big gains to move into second, while Toby Price retains third overall after finishing the stage in 8th place.


With a short liaison of only 64 kilometres, stage seven of the 2019 Dakar Rally was all about the 323-kilometre timed special. The day‰Ûªs racing was delayed and also halted momentarily midway through, due to fog causing safety issues for the competitors. The first looped stage of the event, riders covered terrain already used in the rally close to the town of San Juan de Marcona. Traces from previous stages only made navigation tougher and with fatigue starting to play its part, it was an exhausting day for all.

Capitalising on his start position of 12th, Sam Sunderland immediately set about making time on the front runners. By waypoint three, Sunderland was ahead and despite a small error in the latter part of the stage, went on to win by close to two minutes at the line. With a number of his main rivals losing more time on the technical stage, Sunderland improved his position in the provisional overall standings to fourth.

‰ÛÏI‰Ûªm pleased with today, it‰Ûªs gone really well and it feels good to get some time back on the leaders," Sunderland said. "Obviously, yesterday I was really disappointed. I opened the stage well but lost time after damaging my rear brake. That upset my strategy a little but then today, I decided to use that frustration to my advantage and push as hard as I could right from the start. I did lose a little time right at the end when it took me a couple of minutes to find a WPC, but overall I‰Ûªm happy with how I rode the stage. The guys made a few small changes to the suspension on my bike last night and I am really grateful for that. It seems to have helped because the bike felt great today. Tomorrow we start with the fastest cars and trucks, which will make things even more unpredictable again, so we‰Ûªll see how we go.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
Monster Energy Honda Team young gun Jose Ignacio Cornejo had his best ever stage finish with second. Photo: Florent Gooden/DPPI
Monster Energy Honda Team's Jose Ignacio Cornejo came within a whisker of clinching his first Dakar stage win. The Chilean set a cracking pace in the first part and had no difficulty in finding one of the more critical waypoints in the special whilst others doubted and which eventual led to the day‰Ûªs second quickest time. Nacho lies twelfth in the overall standings, just over an hour behind the leader.

"Today was a good day, but the stage was tough," Cornejo said. "At first we passed over tracks made on previous days, so we had to be careful in some parts, but in general it was a very fast stage. In the second part, there was more sand and dunes and I knew that there I would be able to push harder because the first riders have lost time looking for a waypoint in the middle of the dunes. I minimized errors and I was able to maintain a good pace, so I am very happy with today's stage. I almost got the victory, but I think it's better not to have to open the track tomorrow."
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
American Ricky Brabec rebounded with third on stage to take the general classification lead after previous leader Pablo Quintanilla had a trouble filled day.
Third today was Ricky Brabec, although the American was more than happy to retake the overall lead. Brabec was comfortable over the terrain that included dunes and was fast enough to mark the third best time of the day some 6‰Ûª30‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
Yamalube Yamaha Rally team's Adrien Van Beveren was 4th today and moved from 5th in the overall to 2nd!. Photo: Yamaha Racing.
Yamalube Yamaha Rally team's Adrien Van Beveren made full use of his acute navigational skills in the dunes of Peru. The first rider to find the right tracks in one of the most crucial sections of the special stage, the Frenchman gained time to his rivals. Earning a strong fourth place result for the day, he added yet another top five stage performance to his 2019 Dakar Rally campaign and moved to second in the standings.

"I've put it all on the line today for a good result and I'm happy I climbed a few places in the overall," Van Beveren said. "I had a good day and really gave my best. I knew it would be a tricky stage in the dunes, so I decided from the start to be extra careful on my navigation. At one point I saw a big group of riders lost and searching for the waypoint. I remained calm and was the first one to find the waypoint. I thought I would be able to make up some good time there, but the other riders followed me in the right tracks. I am still in the game and the next few stages will be very important. I feel I'm on top of my game at the moment and I will continue giving it all here in Peru."
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
Luciano Benavides, younger brother of Kevin, is having a great 2019 Dakar finishing 5th on stage and heading for a top ten overall result. Photo: Marcin Kin
Gaining confidence as the rally progresses, team junior Luciano Benavides rode an excellent stage to place fifth. Having the opportunity to ride with stage-winner Sunderland helped to increase the Argentinian‰Ûªs experience even further. Aiming for a top-10 result overall, Benavides is keen to maintain his impressive form to the finish.

‰ÛÏToday was good for me, I finished fifth, which is another best result for me," Benavides said. "My rhythm right from the start was good but I didn‰Ûªt take any risks because I wanted to stay safe and make it to the finish. Sam caught and passed me in the dunes so I was able to follow him for about 100 kilometres. That was really useful as I was able to watch how he rides and I believe I learned a lot from that. I start from the front row on tomorrows stage so hopefully I can stay with the others and get a good result.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
Andrew Short continues to impress with another strong results, coming in 6th on the stage the American now sits in 9th overall. Photo: Marcin Kin
Continuing to demonstrate improved speed and consistency, Andrew Short rode most of the special stage alone. Posting the sixth fastest time for the day, the American racer is now ninth in the provisional overall standings and less than three minutes behind the rider in eighth place.

‰ÛÏMy pace was good today. It seems that in this area of Peru the weather is a little extreme," Short said. "There‰Ûªs always something crazy over here and today we had some fog, a lot of wind and some parts with fesh-fesh. I rode most of the stage by myself and then towards the end I got caught by a couple of other riders. Racing alongside others, it‰Ûªs much easier to know and control my pace. Overall, it was a decent day and the guys in front of me in the overall are now within seconds or minutes. It‰Ûªs realistic for me to battle with the rider in front of me in the overall. I‰Ûªve made some big improvements this year with my navigation and my speed and I‰Ûªm happy with that.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
Yamaha's Xavier de Soultrait is now 10th in the provisional overall standings after finishing 7th. Photo: Yamaha Racing
Catching up with the leading group inside the special stage, Xavier de Soultrait earned a seventh-place result. Picking up a small one-minute penalty for exceeding the limit in a 30 km/h speed zone, the Yamalube Yamaha Rally team rider is now 10th in the provisional overall standings.

"It was a much better day for me and my speed was on point today," The Frenchman explained. "I was fast while also riding safely and not taking any big risks. I caught up with the leading group of riders in the special and decided to attack. Unfortunately, then I started feeling the effects of my sea sickness and was unable to give 100%. I took some more pills and I feel better now. Tomorrow we will have a different stage, with bikes, cars and trucks starting together in large groups. The stage will again be in the dunes so navigation will be the crucial factor."
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
It was another tough day for Toby Price and has now admitted with his wrist injury causing so much pain he just wants to make it to the finish, he remains in third following an 8th place finish today. Photo: Marcin Kin
Still suffering with his injury, Toby Price battles on. Eighth place on the day‰Ûªs stage, and making up time on a number of his closest rivals, the Australian successfully defended his third place in the provisional overall standings. Determined to make the finish, Price will keep on fighting for a top result.

‰ÛÏThe day has gone well, it ended up with a lot of us riding in a group today," Price explained. "We did get lost at one point and lose a few minutes but all-in-all things are going ok. Obviously, my wrist is still giving me some pain, but we‰Ûªre past the point of no return now ‰ÛÒ there‰Ûªs no stopping. I‰Ûªm still sitting in third overall with just a few stages left so I‰Ûªll continue taking each day as it comes and keep on fighting.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead
Pablo Quintanilla dropped from the lead to fifth in the standings today after a few navigational errors. he is now 10 minutes of the lead.
Defending champion Matthias Walkner rode a solid stage seven. The third rider away from the start this morning, he navigated perfectly through the well-used route, ultimately catching a group of riders ahead of him. Successfully completing the day in 10th place, Walkner will enjoy an advantageous start position for tomorrows ‰Û÷Super Ica‰Ûª stage eight.

‰ÛÏThings started off well today, up to around kilometre-200 my pace was strong," the Austrian recalled. "I caught up with the guys in front after that and we got a little lost trying to find one of the waypoints. Towards the end of the stage I had quite a big crash but was luckily able to get straight back on. It‰Ûªs been a tough day, but I‰Ûªve done my best and I‰Ûªm looking forward to tomorrow.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 7: Sam Sunderland Rebounds For Satge Win, Brabec Retakes Overall Lead

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