Rallye

2019 Dakar Stage 8: Matthias Walkner Takes Stage Win, Toby Price Takes Overall Lead

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After todays stage 8 win, Matthias Walkner now lies third, six minutes and 30 seconds behind teammate Toby Price. Photo: Marcin Kin
Matthias Walkner has taken his second stage win of the 2019 Dakar Rally with victory on stage eight while Australian Toby Price has assumed the general classification lead after finishing third with two stages left to contest.

Leader of the general classification going into today's stage, Ricky Brabec, was a high profile abandon not finishing today's stage suffering engine failure 57km into the stage. "Dakar wins again, I could say so much it at the moment it wouldn‰Ûªt be very nice," the American said. "Thank you for the support throughout the last weeks... what I can say is, it‰Ûªs awesome to have the backing and support."

Dubbed the ‰Û÷Super Ica‰Ûª, 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.


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. With positions closing up at the top of the overall standings, Walkner now lies third, six minutes and 30 seconds behind teammate Price.

‰ÛÏGood day for me today, I really tried to push all day long," the Red Bull KTM rider said. "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‰Ûªt really see too well ahead of you. I was happy with my riding today and everything is going well so we‰Ûªll see what the next two days bring.‰Û
Pablo Quintanilla gained three spots in the overall standings on account of his strong second place on stage and contender Ricky Brabec dropping out. Photo: Marcin Kin
Taking full advantage of his strong starting position from the second wave of competitors, 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 the provisional leader Toby Price.

‰ÛÏEverything went according to plan for me today," Quintanilla enthused. "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‰Ûªs stage was not easy. It was physically and mentally tough but I did my best pushing all the way to the finish. We‰Ûªre nine days into this race and we‰Ûªre all starting to feel the effects of these tough stages on our bodies. I‰Ûªm really happy with where I‰Ûªm 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.‰Û
Aussie Toby Price jumped into the race lead with third place on stage. He holds a slender one minutes advantage going into the final two days Photo: Frederic LeFloc'h / DPPI
2016 Dakar Champion 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.

‰ÛÏI knew today had to count so I gave it everything ‰ÛÒ the wrist is really starting to sting now!" Price shared. "It was a long special at 360 kilometres but I got through it and I‰Ûªm pleased with how the whole stage went. Just two days left so I‰Ûªll get some rest tonight and attack again tomorrow. When the helmet goes on, you know I‰Ûªm just going to do the best I can.‰Û
Sam Sunderland was forced to delay his start when his on-bike tracker failed, he still rebounded for 4th on stage and is now in the same position in the overall. Photo: Frederic LeFloc'h / DPPI
Set to open the special today due to his win on the previous day‰Ûªs stage seven, yesterday's stage winner 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.

‰ÛÏI‰Ûªm happy with my riding today but it‰Ûªs been a tough one and I‰Ûªm not sure if an issue at the start will cost me some time," Sunderland lamented. "My Iritrack wasn‰Ûªt 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‰Ûªm sure there‰Ûªs plenty more excitement to come.‰Û
American Andrew Short has sure found his Dakar legs now posting regular tope ten finishes, today he was 5th on stage. Photo: Marcin Kin.
Going from strength-to-strength in this year‰Ûªs 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‰Ûªs provisional overall standings.

‰ÛÏIt was interesting to start the stage alongside the cars. A few kilometres into the stage I got passed by Nani Roma‰Ûªs car and he was going really fast on the roads," Short explained. "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‰Ûªm trying to get better on every stage and every day and that‰Ûªs what matters the most for me.‰Û
Yamalube Yamaha Rally Racing's Adrien Van Beveren posted the sixth best time for the day, Van Beveren is currently placed fifth in the event's provisional overall standings. Photo: Yamaha Racing.
Adrien Van Beveren 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.

"Today I decided to attack more than any of the previous stages and it didn't work to my advantage," the Frenchman explained. "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."
Luciano Benavides is another who continues to impress finishing todays stage after finishing 7th and is now 9th in the overall. Photo: Marcin Kin.
Claiming seventh on today‰Ûªs 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.

‰ÛÏToday was tough again ‰ÛÒ another long 360 kilometres," Benavides said. "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.‰Û
Nacho Cornejo was the best of the Monster Energy Honda Team today in what was a disappointing day with leader and main contender Ricky Brabec dropping out. Photo: DPPI
Jos̩ Ignacio Cornejo lead Monster Energy Honda team-mate Kevin Benavides home in 8th and 9th respectively in what was a bad day for the team after race leader Ricky Brabec dropped out of the 2019 edition.

"Today was a long day. I‰Ûªm happy because I opened almost the whole special, except for a few kilometres when a car overtook me," Cornejo said. "It was very difficult to open the track all day in a very sandy stage, off-piste and in open desert, so I‰Ûªm very happy with today's stage. I think it will help me in the future, you learn a lot by opening the track. It's a pity that Ricky had to retire, he was having a great race. Everyone was impressed because he was very solid. It encouraged him but also the whole team. Now we have to keep pushing forward, there are still two days left and everything can happen."

Meanwhile Kevin Benavides had to endure a problem with the navigation equipment during the 361-kilometre special, which delayed the rider considerably. The Argentine Monster Energy Honda Team is sixth in the race overall.

"Today the stage was complicated because I wasn‰Ûªt able to validate a waypoint. It was a point which wasn‰Ûªt visible but should have been very easy to find as it was just down a mountain as you entered the beach," an unhappy Benavides explained.

"I was at the right point and but the waypoint wouldn‰Ûªt 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‰Ûªt 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‰Ûªs 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."
Yamaha's Xavier de Soultrait moved up to eighth in the provisional overall standings, the Frenchman remains optimistic that he can climb even higher in the overall results. Photo: Yamaha Racing
Yamaha's 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.

"It was another long and difficult day in the fesh-fesh and the sand," Xavier de Soultrait said. "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."

Privateer Stefan Svitko, who was running in 8th place, did not finish the stage and was air lifted to hospital with a head injury after suffering a heavy crash. Svitko, who finished on the podium two years ago ws making his 10th start in the Dakar.

Wednesday‰Ûªs 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.

Dakar Rally 2019 - Race Schedule
Stage 1 | Jan 7 | Lima to Pisco | SS: 84km | Total: 331km
Stage 2 | Jan 8 | Pisco to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 342km | Total: 554km
Stage 3 | Jan 9 | San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa | SS: 331km | Total: 779km
Stage 4 | Jan 10 | Arequipa to Moquegua | SS: 352km | Total: 511km
Stage 5 | Jan 11 | Moquegua to Arequipa | SS: 345km | Total: 776km
Rest Day | Jan 12 | Arequipa
Stage 6 | Jan 13 | Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 317km | Total: 839km
Stage 7 | Jan 14 | San Juan de Marcona to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 323km | Total: 387km
Stage 8 | Jan 15 | San Juan de Marcona to Pisco | SS: 361km | Total: 576km
Stage 9 | Jan 16 | Pisco to Pisco | SS: 313km | Total: 410km
Stage 10 | Jan 17 | Pisco to Lima | SS: 112km | Total: 358km

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