Dakar 2016 – Stage 9, 10, & 11

Cliff Notes On A Crazy Three Days At Dakar 2016 Rally

KTM rider at Dakar 2016
KTM 450 rider Toby Price now has a 35-minute lead in the overall with only two stages left at the Dakar 2016 rally.Photo Courtesy Of KTM / Barni C.

In the past three days the Dakar organizers and riders have been faced with enormous challenges on all fronts. Stage 9 proved particularly challenging due to the 107+ degree heat and the tricky route through the Dunes of Fiambala. Organizers were forced to make the decision to cut the stage short for safety reasons; basically the ASO wasn’t able to keep up with the number of riders having difficulty and so they were worried that they would not be able to get all of the riders off course before dark. Tragically, in the two previous years of the Dakar, a rider has died because the rescue team was overwhelmed and could not evacuate them until the following day. Obviously the organizers made the right decision stopping the stage, however, this set off a confusing chain of events that even the most vigilant Dakar follower has difficulty understanding.

The situation is so complicated that I’m not sure I can even accurately explain what has been happening over the past three days, so I have decided to give you my Dakar cliff notes version.

Here goes…

Dakar 2016 - Stage 9 Marathon Day

  • Stage 9 was expected to be the most Challenging stage of the 2016 Dakar.
  • Toby Price put in an incredible ride, leading the entire stage and dominating the day.
  • 2nd Overall Paulo Goncalves had a disastrous day. A stick through the radiator caused his engine to melt down before CP2.
  • Only 11 riders completed the entire stage.
  • Organizers made the call to stop the stage at CP2.
  • Goncalves happened to be at CP2 when the stage was called and was towed in to the Bivouac by teammate Paolo Ceci.
  • Because it was a marathon stage, Goncalves and his teammates were forced to take the engine from Michael Metge's bike to keep Goncalves in the race. They did the engine swap with only the tools they were carrying and no help from their crew.
  • Goncalves was later given a 45min penalty for the engine swap.
  • Organizers used the strangest method I have ever seen to calculate the day's results. They averaged the times from the riders who did finish the stage, then took times from CP2 and estimated where they would have finished if they kept the same pace. I know, right??
  • Toby Price ended up winning the day by over 14 minutes over Ricky Brabec.

Dakar 2016 - Stage 10

  • Stafan Svitko took his first Dakar Stage win with Benavides 2nd and Price 3rd.
  • The Stage was again cut short due to flooded river crossings, but not until the lead bikes had already finished.
  • American Ricky Brabec finished 8th on the day, moving him up to 8th overall.
  • American Ian Blythe had his best stage finish of 11th. He now sits 27th overall.
  • American C.R. Gittere was forced to drop out of the race for unknown reasons but he appears to be okay.

Dakar 2016 - Stage 11

  • Again, crazy high temperatures forced the organizers to cut the stage short.
  • There is still confusion on how the results will be calculated, but it appears that Antoine Meo has won the stage over Price and Quintanilla.
  • Only 14 riders completed the stage before it was stopped.
  • It appears that Paulo Goncalves has crashed out of the race, apparently he suffered a concussion. Completely disoriented, he rode to a spectator area and asked where he was. He was later airlifted to the hospital for observation.
  • Toby Price now has a 35 minute lead in the overall with only two stages left
  • Meo and Quintanilla are in an all out battle for 3rd overall with only about 1.5 minutes between them.
  • American Ian Blythe had an amazing stage, finishing 8th on the day.
  • Ricky Brabec now sits 8th overall.

Honestly, I don’t know what to make of all of the chaos in this year’s Dakar. From the outside looking in, I might speculate that the first week was too easy and failed to weed out some of the weaker riders before reaching the super difficult stages 9,10 and 11, thus overwhelming the rescue crews with riders dropping out. Another factor may be that new sporting director Marc Coma is still learning what he can and cannot get away with when designing the route. I am looking forward to the final two days and hoping that Toby Price can keep it rolling all the way to Rosario.

[Ed Note: Only 14 bikes finished the stage today, those results are below. Americans Alexander Smith and Scott Bright’s current standings have not yet been posted, but as of yesterday Smith was in 38th and Bright was in 57th. As mentioned earlier, CR Gittere is out of the event. As for the other two Americans, they are among the top 14 riders listed below]

MOST CURRENT OVERALL STANDINGS, OFFICIALLY, AFTER STAGE 11

Pos. No. Name Make Time Variation Penalty
1 3 PRICE (AUS) KTM 40:08:30 - -
2 5 SVITKO (SVK) KTM 40:43:53 00:35:23 00:01:00
3 49 MEO (FRA) KTM 40:52:16 00:43:46 -
4 4 QUINTANILLA (CHL) HUSQVARNA 40:53:49 00:45:19 -
5 47 BENAVIDES (ARG) HONDA 41:05:35 00:57:05 -
6 7 RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA 41:10:31 01:02:01 00:02:00
7 42 VAN BEVEREN (FRA) YAMAHA 41:42:16 01:33:46 -
8 48 BRABEC (USA) HONDA 41:48:25 01:39:55 -
9 23 FARRES GUELL (ESP) KTM 41:50:28 01:41:58 -
10 61 METGE (FRA) HONDA 43:28:11 03:19:41 -
11 11 VILADOMS (ESP) KTM 43:53:43 03:45:13 00:01:00
12 50 CERUTTI (ITA) HUSQVARNA 43:55:19 03:46:49 -
13 29 VOGELS (NLD) KTM 45:40:58 05:32:28 00:15:30
14 106 BLYTHE (USA) KTM 46:01:39 05:53:09 00:08:00