One-two for the Monster Energy Honda Team in the Dakar marathon stage. Brabec wins his first Dakar stage


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 Gonçalves taking second spot.

After an opening week where the Monster Energy Honda Team put on a fine display of quality, the team once again got straight down to business in the first stage of week two, climbing the overall leaderboard in the process.

Although yesterday’s re-routing of the timed sections did little to favour the Monster Energy Honda Team, today’s 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’s fastest time and making up positions in the general rankings. Portuguese team-mate Paulo Gonçalves was on fire today too and made short work of catching up with the rider ahead, before going on to clinch the runner-up spot.

Joan Barreda, like his team-mates, came out guns blazing in a bid to win the stage. However, a minor error saw him take a parallel route that required more caution and more time. The fourth place on the stage does, however, allow the Spaniard to move two positions up the overall rankings. Michael Metge was again showing form with sixth place on the day.

Recent heavy rain continues to wreak havoc with the Bolivian road system and subsequently the scheduled Dakar route. Not only did this force the complete cancellation of the sixth stage but it also saw the seventh stage suffer heavy modifications. The stage was, in the end, raced over half of the originally planned course with a total of 160 kilometres against the clock, rather than the 322 of the programme. Part of today’s stage, between La Paz and Uyuni, featured dune-filled routes that had been scheduled for stage six together with other slippery, mud-soaked stretches.

The rally leaves Bolivia tomorrow and re-enters Argentina. The stage concludes in Salta, home of injured Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides, who will be reunited with his team-mates at the end of the two-day marathon stage. Riders, of course, are not permitted to receive any kind of outside mechanical assistance, although they can work on the bikes themselves. Riders are camped in Uyuni and the assistance in Tupiza.