Rallye

Gon̤alves Snatches Stage Victory on Dakar Stage 7, Toby Price 5th

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Portuguese HRC Honda rider Paulo Gon̤alves was victorious as the Dakar 2015 riders rolled into Uyuni, Bolivia with its parc ferm̩ where the bikes will be isolated overnight as the riders complete the first half of the first of two marathon stages at this years Dakar Rally.

The rules governing the end of the first marathon stage specify that, where necessary, machines can only be repaired by the actual competitors themselves.

The mountainous zones that led from Chile to Bolivia amounted to a tough test for bikes and riders alike. The altitude of over 3600 metres for the 321 kilometres were taxing enough, but add in dire meteorological conditions which included rain and snow in Uyuni, and the result was dusty tracks turned into a veritable quagmire.

Gon̤alves hit hard from the outset, keeping up an even pace through most of the race, and forcing a more ferocious final stretch, that saw the Team HRC ace finish the special stage with the best time.

Stage six winner H̩lder Rodrigues, was first away and open the road until shortly after CP1 where he was overtaken by KTM mounted rookie Matthias Walkner. Rodrigues was then reached by team-mate Gon̤alves too, and the two rode the rest of the stage side by side.

"This stage was great, I started in the front, and that‰Ûªs always difficult as it‰Ûªs very easy to lose time as you open the road." Goncalves said. "I pushed very hard, to stay at the front of the race. I‰Ûªm very happy, of course, with my result today.

"I never stopped pushing until the finish. This stage was very hard, mud, stones, and many bumps, unbelievably hard, but I won it and that‰Ûªs great."
Toby Price once again raced at the front finishing the stage in 5th position after a well deserved rest day on Saturday - Credit: Rallyzone - Bauer/Barni
Coma finished the stage just 14 second behind Goncalves cutting his deviset to race leader Joan Barreda in half. Austrian Dakar rookie, Matthias Walkner finished the stage in 4th position a further 16 second back, bouncing back from a tough stage 6 that left him well down the leaderboard in the overall classification.

Pablo Quintanilla finished the stage in 4th position 1 minute and 32 seconds behind Barreda and just 17 seconds ahead of Australia's Toby Price in 5th position. Price continues to hold down 5th position overall and has cut the gap to race leader Barreda from just over 41 minutes after stage five, to just under 30 minutes after stage 7.

"It was a great day today. " Price commented. "I opened the stage by leading the way for a while for the first time. I tried my best to stay on the course, but I made a few mistakes. My pace is good and so is the KTM motorcycle, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

"The altitude makes it a lot tougher than I thought. The bike has been great and done an amazing job during this marathon stage, I'll check a couple of things this evening and that should be enough for tomorrows stages."

Race leader Joan Barreda got off to a fine start in the timed special, but as the stage played out, he took a tumble, and managed to break the handlebars into two. Nevertheless, with 120 kilometres still to go, the never-say-die Spaniard dug deep and limited the time conceded to arch-rival Marc Coma to a mere six minutes finishing the stage in 11th position.

"It was a tough stage where you had to be careful, but when I came to a muddy section around kilometre 200, while I was breaking before a danger marked on the road book, the bike slid and I crashed." Barreda explained.

"The handlebars were damaged, so I had to do the last 120 kilometres just with the right hand. I was pushing hard to lose a minimum of time, but that was not easy.

"We are now at the marathon stage, we are a great team and we will solve the problem with my teammates," Barreda added.

Riders are in for another tough day for stage 8 from Uyunia, Bolivia to Iquique, Chile with just 24km of liasion and 784 of competitive special.
Joan Barreda continues to lead, though that lead has been cut in half overnight by a hard charging Marc Coma
Stage 7 Results
1. PAULO GONCALVES(PRT) - HONDA CRF450RALLY 3h56m00s
2. MARC COMA(ESP) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:00:14
3. MATTHIAS WALKNER(AUT) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:00:30
4. PABLO QUINTANILLA(CHL) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:01:32
5. TOBY PRICE(AUS) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:01:49
6. HELDER RODRIGUES(PRT) - HONDA CRF450RALLY +00:04:05
7. STEFAN SVITKO(SVK) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:05:09
8. RIAAN VAN NIEKERK(ZAF) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:06:06
9. JORDI VILADOMS(ESP) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:06:10
10. ALESSANDRO BOTTURI(ITA) - YAMAHA 450 YZF RALLY +00:06:13
11. JOAN BARREDA BORT(ESP) - HONDA CRF450RALLY +00:06:13
74. LLEWELLYN SULLIVAN-PAVEY(AUS) - KTM 450 RALLYE +02:35:04
77. SIMON PAVEY(AUS) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +02:38:38

Dakar Standings After Stage 7
1. JOAN BARREDA BORT(ESP) - HONDA CRF450RALLY 25h40m48s
2. MARC COMA(ESP) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:06:28
3. PAULO GONCALVES(PRT) - HONDA CRF450RALLY +00:10:59
4. PABLO QUINTANILLA(CHL) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:25:16
5. TOBY PRICE(AUS) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:29:20
6. HELDER RODRIGUES(PRT) - HONDA CRF450RALLY +00:33:56
7. STEFAN SVITKO(SVK) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:40:23
8. RUBEN FARIA(PRT) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +00:40:55
9. ALAIN DUCLOS(FRA) - SHERCO TVS RTR 450 +01:05:31
10. DAVID CASTEU(FRA) - KTM 450 RALLY +01:16:52
70. LLEWELLYN SULLIVAN-PAVEY(AUS) - KTM 450 RALLYE +12:21:44
71. SIMON PAVEY(AUS) - KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA +12:42:32

Top Image: Paulo Goncalves claimed victory on stage 7 overnight

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