Monday, January 9, 2017

American Brabec Wins Dakar Stage

After weather gave the competitors an extra rest day over the weekend in Bolivia's capital La Paz, the 2017 Dakar Rally resume with an altered marathon stage to the salt flats of Uyuni and it saw the only American in this year's race end up on the top step of the podium. Meanwhile, one category leader extended his overall lead, another overall lead change in the quad class and one overall leader hold serve.

American Ricky Brabec won stage seven in the bike class and became the first American to win a stage in the two-wheel category since Kurt Casalli won two stages in the 2013 edition. The California won by a minute and 44 seconds over fellow Honda rider Paulo Gonçalves. Overall leader Sam Sunderland finished third on the day, four minutes and 43 seconds behind Brabec but the British rider extended his overall lead. Joan Barreda finished fourth, six minutes and 51 seconds behind his fellow Honda rider and Xavier de Soultrait rounded out the top five on the day, seven minutes and ten seconds back. 

Sunderland still holds the overall lead and his gap has increased to 17 minutes and 45 seconds ahead of Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla, who finished ninth on the day. Adrien Van Beveren remains third but finds himself 22 minutes and 16 seconds behind Sunderland. Gerard Farres Guell is fourth, 28 minutes and 36 seconds back with Matthias Walkner rounding out the top five, over 34 minutes behind Sunderland. De Soultrait is over 38 minutes back in sixth ahead of Pierre Alexander Renet, who is over an hour back but about three minutes ahead of Gonçalves. 

After his stage victory, Brabec is 14th, one hour, 44 minutes and 44 seconds behind Sunderland. 

Stéphane Peterhansel won his second stage of this year's race and extended his lead but Sébastien Loeb finished 48 seconds behind his fellow French and Peugeot driver. Toyota's Giniel de Villiers finished third on the day, three minutes and 33 seconds back of Peterhansel. Mikko Hirvonen finished five minutes and three seconds behind Peterhansel in fourth with Nani Roma rounding out the top five, 29 seconds behind his fellow Mini driver Hirvonen. 

Peterhansel holds a minute and 57-second lead over Loeb overall. Roma is 11 minutes and seven seconds behind Peterhansel in third. Cyril Despres finished seventh on the day and lost over nine minutes and finds himself 14 minutes and one second behind Peterhansel in fourth. Hirvonen rounds out the top five, 47 minutes and 24 seconds behind Peterhansel. De Villiers trails Peterhansel by nearly an hour and 12 seconds in sixth. 

Sergey Karyakin won his first stage of the Dakar Rally and has vaulted himself to the top of the quad classifications. The Russian won the day by two minutes and 59 seconds over Alex Dutrie. Ignacio Casale finished third, nine minutes and 36 seconds back with Nelson Sanabria finishing 13 minutes and 15 seconds back. Simon Vitse rounded out the top five on the day, finishing 15 seconds behind Sanabria. 

Karyakin leads Vitse by five minutes and 16 seconds overall through stage seven. No rider has held on to the overall lead in the quad class for consecutive stages. Karyakin did hold the overall lead after stage four but dropped to second after stage five behind Vitse. Dutrie is four seconds behind his fellow Frenchman Vitse in third. Casale trails by 15 minutes and 58 seconds in fourth. Daniel Mazzucco trails by an hour and 15 minutes in fifth. 

Dmitry Sotnikov won stage seven of the truck class by two minutes and 51 seconds over Ton Genugten. This is Sotnikov's first stage victory of the 2017 edition and Kamaz's second stage victory.  Federico Villargra finished third on the day, three minutes and 37 seconds behind Sotnikov. Truck overall leader Gerard de Rooy finished four minutes and 25 seconds behind Sotnikov with Siarhei Viazovich rounding out the top five on the day, five minutes and 22 seconds behind Sotnikov.

De Rooy maintains the overall lead in the truck class by two minutes and 11 seconds over Sotnikov. Eduard Nikolaev is third, five minutes and 57 seconds behind de Rooy after finishing seventh on stage seven nearly eight minutes behind Sotnikov. Ayrat Mardeev is fourth, 20 minutes and 12 seconds back after finishing eighth on stage seven. Villagra rounds out the top five, trailing de Rooy by almost 34 minutes.

Stage eight sees the race return to Argentina as the teams go from Uyuni, Bolivia to Salta, Argentina.