Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antoine Meo has won the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally 2018. Competing in the final Peruvian stage of this year’s event, Meo put in an excellent performance to top the shortened stage by 30 seconds and arrive safely in Bolivia.
Overall leader going into the stage, Kevin Benavides , finished second and retains hi lead. Toby Price chased down his team-mate, Meo, finishing in third.
KTM's Antoine Meo took his first stage win of the 2018 Dakar and is now 6th in the overall. Credit: PhotosDakar.com - KTM Media Library
With the opening third of today’s 313km special stage cancelled, riders started at waypoint four on the shores of Lake Titicaca for a 194km sprint over the mountains of Peru and into Bolivia. With the terrain now very much different to the soft sand of the Peruvian desert, riders not only had to adapt to the firmer, but at times muddy, conditions but also the altitude. The highest part of the stage saw the route climb to over 4,000 metres above sea-level.
Setting off fourth due to his finish on the previous day’s stage five, Antoine Meo immediately set about chasing down his team-mate Matthias Walkner and the other riders in front. Slowly building pace as the day went on, the 33-year-old Frenchman made very few mistakes and snatched victory right at the climax of the stage.
"Today was a good day. I am so happy to take my first win of this year’s event – it feels great," Meo enthused, "The stage was very long and it was so cold out there. I had a great battle with Toby for the whole stage but as we neared the finish, the last 10km got really muddy and very slippery so I knew I had a chance to make up some good time. I took the risk, pushed on really hard and managed to beat him. Tomorrow we have a rest day, which will be nice and then it’s onto the second half of the rally.”
Kevin Benavides took the overall lead with second on the 6th stage
The Honda CRF450 RALLY of the Monster Energy Honda Team continues to excel in this 40th edition of the Dakar Rally. A dazzling performance today by Kevin Benavides earns the Argentinean the overall leadership of the race with second on today's 6th stage.
"I am very proud because it is the first time that an Argentine rider has led the Dakar Rally," Benavides said. "I'm very happy too, because the idea was to get as high up the rankings as possible before the rest stage, so I can not be happier. I'm a little tired, we've had rain, mud, fast roads. But I was fast and felt comfortable on the bike. Now we have a day to rest and prepare the second week.
Toby price had a top three finish and moved up to 5th in the overall. Credit: PhotosDakar.com - KTM Media Library
2016 Dakar winner Toby Price challenged for the win throughout today’s short two-hour timed special. Finally finishing in third, Price’s time matched exactly that posted by runner-up Kevin Benavides. With only a split-second separating the two after nearly 200km of riding, the former world enduro champion was
happy with his pace but disappointed to miss out on the win.
"Stage six worked out really well," Price reflected. "We had a long morning with the extended liaison section and that was really cold to ride. The special went well, but we caught some rain from about the halfway point and it made things very slippery in places. I got third today, which I’m happy with but I need to try and get back some time on the top guys. I’ll enjoy the rest day tomorrow and then it’s full-gas next week and see what we can do.”
It was another Argentinean that came home in 4th with Honda privateer Diego Martin Duplessis finishing just over a minute behind Meo. Diego Martin Duplessis has made good progress since the start in Lima. Despite a complicated beginning to the rally with an 83rd placed finish on the first day, the Argentinean has got better with each stage. Having finished 25th on his first Dakar in 2016 and then 15th in 2017, Duplessis is perhaps following in the footsteps of his countryman Kevin Benavides.
Spaniard Daniel Oliveras Carreras took his KTM to 5th on the stage
Pablo Quintanilla put in a solid performance during today’s stages securing a strong sixth place result for the day, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has moved back inside the top six in the event’s provisional overall standings.
“Today was a long stage, the liaison was especially tough – it was really cold and very wet in places," Quintanilla said. "The special stage was very fast, and quite dangerous due to the deep water. I’m happy with my pace though and for me, it was important to place between fifth and 10th to get a good start position for the next stage. I only lost a couple of minutes from the leader so that’s good. The bike was awesome today and I’m feeling good so I look forward to the next stage.”
Enjoying yet another steady performance, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Rod Faggotter remains inside the top 20.
Enjoying yet another steady performance, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Rod Faggotter remains inside the top 20 in the provisional overall standings. Reaching the La Paz bivouac without any issue, the Aussie is now 18th in the provisional overall.
"It was a pretty long, wet and cold day today so it felt like a big relief to reach the La Paz bivouac without any issues," Faggotter said. "We got off to a very early start in the morning and rode all the way down to the Bolivian borders. I got through the day pretty all-right. To be honest it was hard to enjoy such a day, especially if you're all wet and it's hard to see. This is the Dakar and we know how to deal with such long days. I had no crashes today, my bike is in good shape so for me it all goes to plan so far."
Aussie Scott Bricknell finished stage 6th in 96th and is now 78th overall
Tomorrow (Friday), riders will enjoy a well-earned rest day in the city of La Paz, Bolivia. The break will also give competitors a chance to acclimatise to the extreme altitude of the Bolivian Altiplano - the city of La Paz itself sits at 3,640m above sea-level. Racing will resume on Saturday with the 727km stage seven, La Paz to Uyuni, the first of the two marathon stages for the bikes.
2018 Dakar Stage 6 Results - Thursday, January 11th 2018 Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap 1 Meo Antoine 19 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 01:54'10 2 Benavides Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +0'30 3 Price Toby 8 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +0'30 4 Duplessis Martín 27 ARG Honda Argentina - MEC Team Honda +01'13 5 Oliveras Daniel 29 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +01'55 6 Quintanilla Pablo 10 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +02'00 7 Nosiglia Daniel 33 BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team Husqvarna +02'13 8 Van Beveren Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +03'27 9 Barreda Joan 5 SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +03'30 10 Metge Michael 14 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +03'37 11 Walkner Matthias 2 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +04'06 12 Farres Gerard 3 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +04'14 13 Svitko Stefan 9 SLO Slovnaft Team KTM +04'19 14 Monleon Armand 17 SPA Daming Racing Team KTM +04'34 15 Barragán Jonathan 60 SPA Gas Gas Racing Gas Gas +04'48 27 Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 02:03:41, +09:31 96 Scott Bricknell (Aus) KTM
Provisional Standings after Stage 6 1 Benavides Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 16:33'20 2 Van Beveren Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +01'57 3 Walkner Matthias 2 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +03'50 4 Barreda Joan 5 SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +09'33 5 Price Toby 8 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +09'39 6 Meo Antoine 19 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +10'42 7 de Soultrait Xavier 23 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +11'24 8 Quintanilla Pablo 10 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +16'42 9 Farres Gerard 3 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +18'08 10 Svitko Stefan 9 SLO Slovnaft Team KTM +29'11 18 Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 17:38:05, +01:04:45 78 Scott Bricknell (Aus) KTM
Race Schedule - Dakar Rally 2018 Stage 1 | Jan 6 | Completed Stage 2 | Jan 7 | Completed Stage 3 | Jan 8 | Completed Stage 4 | Jan 9 | Completed Stage 5 | Jan 10 | Completed Stage 6 | Jan 11 | Completed Rest Day | Jan 12 Stage 7 | Jan 13 | La Paz to Uyuni | SS: 425km | Total: 726km Stage 8 | Jan 14 | Uyuni to Tupiza | SS: 498km | Total: 584km Stage 9 | Jan 15 | Tupiza to Salta | SS: 242km | Total: 754km Stage 10 | Jan 16 | Salta to Belén| SS: 372km | Total: 795km Stage 11 | Jan 17 | Belén to Fiambalá | SS: 280km | Total: 484km Stage 12 | Jan 18 | Fiambalá to San Juan | SS: 375km | Total: 722km Stage 13 | Jan 19 | San Juan to Córdoba | SS: 423km | Total: 904km Stage 14 | Jan 20 | Córdoba to Córdoba | SS: 119km | Total: 284km