The Monster Energy Honda Team really hit their stride at the 2017 Dakar during a wet and gruelling eighth stage of fourteen in South America as Joan Barreda followed Ricky Brabec previous day’s success by posting his second victory of the race and the team’s third of the contest.
The Spaniard classified first at the top of the time sheets after the shortened double marathon specials in a determined effort to improve his possibilities in the overall standings; the 33 year old is currently ninth and over an hour down on leader Sam Sunderland.
“There were a lot dangers out there at the start of the special. A lot of water, a lot of mud and mist to make the visibility more complicated,” ‘Bang Bang’ reflected. “But I got to enjoy the final 300 kilometres and I was able to open the throttle a bit more. By the end, the tyres had taken a fair beating from the marathon stage and were skidding a lot. But it was great fun to finish at the front and with the best time too.”
Stage Eight involved foggy and wet conditions and the general state of the climate as the Rally crossed into Argentina for the first time meant that organisers were forced to cancel the ninth route of the competition. It was the second annulment of this 39th edition of the Dakar Rally and means the chances for HRC to barrel closer to the overall podium become narrower; just three stages remain before the arrival in Buenos Aires. Michael Metge’s fourth place through the flooding represented one of his best days in South America so far while Paulo Goncalves filled sixth spot and Brabec came home twelfth having endured the difficult role of leading the field out into the ooze courtesy of his Stage 7 spoils.
Further up the leaderboard Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveran defended the slight margin he retains over Matthias Walkner (less than six minutes) for third place. The Frenchman rode cautiously through the rising water levels and slightly more sodden terrain than the sand specialist is used to. “Overall, we're really happy our riders got to the end of this gruelling marathon stage without any major changes in their positions in the overall,” commented Yamalube Yamaha official team manager Alexandre Kowalski.