Words by Afzal Rawuther
Sherco-TVS’s K P Aravind had a disastrous day as he met with a crash and broke his ankle, shattering his dreams of being only the second Indian rider to finish the Dakar. He couldn’t finish the Dakar last year either as he crashed twice, the second of which in stage three ended his participation in Dakar 2017. His retirement from Dakar 2018 has left Sherco TVS with only one rider in the form of Joan Pedrero in the Dakar as Adrien Metge had also retired earlier in stage 2. Meanwhile Hero MotoSports’ CS Santosh had a decent day finishing 52nd to move up to 51st overall in the general classification.
Stephane Peterhansel was fastest on a day marked by retirements as the Dakar made its way between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa in a 266km special test. His teammate Sebastien Loeb however, had to retire as he got stuck in the dunes and couldn’t get himself out without outside assistance and that cost him over three hours. An injury to the tailbone of the co-driver Daniel Elena made Loeb withdraw from the Dakar.
With the nine-time WRC champion ruled out, his teammates Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz now occupy the top two positions in the overall classification. Peterhansel, a thirteen time Dakar champion notched up his first stage win of the 2018 Dakar and beat his closest competitor , Toyota’s Bernhard ten Brinke by almost five minutes. Sainz was 18 minutes behind his teammate and now trails Peterhansel by over half an hour in the general classification. ten Brinke now sits at third overall with his teammates Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers rounding out the top five.
In the truck category, Eduard Nikolaev continued his dominant run in the Dakar and went on to win his third stage of Dakar 2018 despite his Kamaz truck lying on its side for several minutes in the dunes. MAZ driver Siarhei Viazovich was runner up in the stage finishing six and a half minutes later, while Ton van Genugten finished in third. Nikolaev now sits comfortably in first position in the general classification leading his closest competitor, Iveco’s Frederico Villagra by over an hour.
Honda’s Joan Barreda was quickest on two wheels as he finished the 266km timed special 10min 26secs ahead of the runner up KTM’s Matthias Walkner. Honda’s Kevin Benavides finished in third position. The second and third positions were closely contested and it was for the most part of the stage, a three way fight between Walkner, Benavides and Walkner’s teammate Antoine Meo, with the Austrian finishing in fourth. Overall leader Adrien Van Beveren was more than thirteen minutes behind Barreda.
However, Beveren still managed to finish on top of the overall standings with Benavides in second and just a minute away followed by Walkner who is now just fourteen seconds adrift of Benavides. The bike category has now turning out to be a three way race between Yamaha, Honda and KTM.
In the quad category, defending quad champion Sergey Karyakin crashed and broke his arm 44 kilometers into the stage. He was subsequently forced to retire. That leaves Ignacio Casale at the top with a 40 minute lead over Alexis Hernandez in the general classification.
In the SxS category, Reinaldo Varela finished first with Juan Carlos Uribe Ramos finishing sixteen minutes behind the leader. However, Ramos now trails the leader by only three minutes in the general classification.