Monster Energy Honda Team refuse to throw in the towel, sealing the team’s fifth stage win with a one-two for Barreda and Goncalves

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The Monster Energy Honda Team continue to show a high level of commitment to the race and are tenaciously battling on until the end. In the penultimate stage of the Dakar 2017, Joan Barreda was the best of the one hundred bikers who made it to Río Cuarto, with Paulo Gonçalves posting the day’s second quickest time. The Honda CRF450 RALLY has now triumphed in five stages.

The last long stage of the Rally Dakar was disputed today between San Juan and Río Cuarto, in the province of Córdoba. The 288 kilometres of special concluded with another one-two for the Monster Energy Honda Team.

Joan Barreda, as yesterday’s stage winner, was lumbered with the task of opening the track. He headed out this morning in first place and finished the race still firmly at the head of the field. This is never an easy task as distractions can prove costly. Barreda pull off a very difficult feat in winning two consecutive stage victories. The Spaniard has now clinched the top honours in four of the stages. Portuguese team-mate Paulo Gonçalves, also thundered through the route aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY to take second place. The course took the riders over many variations of terrain: sand and some vegetation to begin with, some mountain tracks and then some speedier sections which usually feature in the WRC. In the general standings Barreda lies in fifth and Goncalves in sixth.

Frenchman Michael Metge, who picked up a penalty yesterday for skipping a waypoint, started from further back and was determined to make up time. Nevertheless, one of the revelations of this Dakar found his progress hampered by the dust and rooster-tails of the riders ahead. In spite of the inconveniences, Mika still managed to post a seventh spot as the race wound up in Río Cuarto.

American rider Ricky Brabec ran into a spot of bad luck which puts an end to his Dakar aspirations. A heavy fall saw a rock damage the machine’s radiator and forced the rider out of the race just six kilometres from the finish-line. Race authorities refused to allow the rider to wait for a tow, deeming the zone too dangerous, before finally airlifting him back to the finish.

Tomorrow the 39th edition of the Rally Dakar 2017 wraps up with a short, looping 64-kilometre special which starts and finishes from the Río Cuarto bivouac.