Rallye

Dakar Stage 7: One-two for the Monster Energy Honda Team

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The Monster Energy Honda Team is going all out in the battle for the Rally Dakar 2017 as the squad posts their best podium finish to date.

Today, Ricky Brabec picked up top honours for the first time in the rally, with team-mate Paulo Gon̤alves taking second spot. KTM's Sam Sunderland finished third and maintains the overall lead.

Although yesterday‰Ûªs re-routing of the timed sections did little to favour the Monster Energy Honda Team, today‰Ûªs modified stage nevertheless saw the team in an especially gung-ho spirit, going flat out to achieve their goal. The result was all four of the team placing amid the top six finishers. The best of the day was Ricky Brabec, clinching his first Dakar stage win in just his second year of participation. A noteworthy achievement for the American who was able to really let rip on the Honda CRF45O RALLY, chalking up the day‰Ûªs fastest time and making up positions in the general rankings.
Stage 7 winner , Monster Energy Honda Team's Ricky Brabec
"Today was good," Brabec said, "It was the first day of the marathon after the rest day. The track was good and the navigating went well. There was more off-road than on-road, which is more my style. I‰Ûªm happy to be here at the finish-line in spite of my slide out in the grass where I went swimming. These bikes are pretty slippery in the mud. I‰Ûªm happy to come away in one piece, healthy and ready to go tomorrow."

Portuguese team-mate Paulo Gon̤alves was on fire today too and made short work of catching up with the rider ahead, before going on to clinch the stage 7 runner-up spot.
Paulo Goncalves made it a one-two for Honda with second on the stage
"Today the stage worked out quite well," Gon̤alves said. "I started out behind Sunderland and pushed hard in the beginning without making any navigation mistakes. I did it well and I caught him up at kilometre 60. We rode together at a good pace. Today is the first day of the marathon and I have the bike ready for tomorrow without having to touch anything. This proves that the HRC engineers are doing an excellent job. We will keep battling on to try and make up the one hour sanction that we received. There is still a long way to go."

KTM's Sam Sunderland still holds a 17 minute lead at the halfway point.

‰ÛÏI‰Ûªm happy. It was a lot harder a stage than we were expecting ‰ÛÒ there was a lot of navigation," Sunderland explained, "Yesterday when we saw the stage had been cut to 174 km, I was pretty happy because I had to open. It was really tricky, really difficult with a lot of vegetation ‰ÛÒ you couldn‰Ûªt see where the tracks were. It was really physical riding and then towards the end there we had a lot of mud, which always makes things interesting. All in all, it was ok.

"I think, sure, I lost some time today because it was a sandy stage and the guys from the back can see the tracks cleanly. I think where I made the mistakes, they should be able to find their way pretty well, but I don‰Ûªt think anybody has arrived yet which is a good sign.

"We‰Ûªll just keep ticking along. The bike‰Ûªs working well, the boys did a good job yesterday. I‰Ûªm really happy with everything on the bike. It‰Ûªs the first stage of the marathon day and the tyres are good so we‰Ûªll just keep ticking along. So far so good‰Û

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