The Uyuni Salt Lake sours Team HRC’s Dakar effort but Goncalves retains overall leadership

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The sixth stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally, battled out around theUyauni Salt Flats, brought with it bitter news for Team HRC as Joan Barreda sees his options of an overall victory fade. However, Paulo Gonçalves still commands at the head of the general standings after a third-place finish on the day. 

 

The Dakar Rally’s sixth stage – a looping route that started and finished in Uyuni, Bolivia – proved to be an arduous, physically challenging affair, including over 540 kilometres of timed special stage. By the time competitors made it back to the bivouac, they had sped through a total of 723 kilometres at 4000 metres altitude and faced some headache-inducing navigation. The race’s highest level at one point even reached a giddy peak of 4,600 metres (15,000 feet).

Team HRC’s steadfast Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves held firm through a tricky special to post third place just 1’12 adrift of the stage winner. As a result Gonçalves continues to head the leaderboard with a 35 second advantage over second place Australian Toby Price, today’s winner.

American Dakar debutant Ricky Brabec turned in a thrilling performance – his best to date – finishing in seventh on the day and jumping to fourteenth in the general rankings. French team-mate Michael Metge, was able to regain momentum and climb some places in the general after finishing the gruelling marathon stage which had displeased him so much. Today, he came home in eleventh place and moves up the table to a respectable twelfth spot.

Joan Barreda came out gunning for victory in this, the longest special stage of the Dakar 2016 at 542 kilometres. After a gutsy start climbing the field, the Spaniard was suddenly forced to halt and lost time trying to sort out a technical issue. Team-mate Paolo Ceci was soon on hand to help out and at the time of sending this press release the rider is being towed by his colleague back to base in an attempt to salvage something from the Dakar. What exactly caused the machine to stop is yet unclear.

Argentinean Kevin Benavides continues to excel with Honda South America Rally Team, who in spite of not finishing as well in today’s special as he had done recently, still manages to rub shoulders with rally’s elites near the top of the overall standings. Benavides lies 21 minutes off the race leader Paulo Gonçalves. Frenchman Adrien Metge on his maiden Dakar outing scored a 21st place and Argentinean rider Pizzolito finished 36th and moves up in the general.