Dakar Rally: Matthias Walkner a stage away from winning, Carlos Sainz on top in cars
In bikes, Matthias Walkner of Red Bull KTM Factory team’s leads second-placed Honda’s Kevin Benavides by 22 minutes and 31 seconds. India’s CS Santosh is 34th overall.other sports Updated: Jan 20, 2018 17:54 IST
After almost two weeks of gruelling race, the Dakar Rally 2018 has reached its penultimate day. After the 13th stage, the leaders’ maintained their place as the gap widened from the chasers.
In bikes, Matthias Walkner of Red Bull KTM Factory team’s leads second-placed Honda’s Kevin Benavides by 22 minutes and 31 seconds. In cars, Team Peugeot Total’s Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz are still holding their lead.
In quads, Ignacio Casale leads second-placed Nicolas Cavigliasso by one hour and 37 minutes. In truck section, team Kamaz-Master (Eduard Nikolaev, Evgeny Yakovlev, Vladimir Rybakov) leads the race going into the final stage.
The 13th stage offered the last taste of sand dunes at San Juan and a fesh-fesh area around the famous WRC mountain-pists in Cordoba, which tested the riders’ nerves. The stage brought the competitors from San Juan to Cordoba, covering a total distance of 907 km, including a special stage of 424 km.
Santosh 34th after stage 13
Hero MotoSports’ CS Santosh, the only Indian left in the Dakar, maintained his 34th place in overall ranking after stage 13, in which he finished . His best-ever finish in Dakar is a 37th place finish in 2015.
“Today was the last big stage of the Dakar with a long liaison and special. You think it is going to get easier towards the end, but it doesn’t. The first 100 kms was very hard but the second half was really nice and fast. I had a lot of fun today on my bike, as I tried to go as fast I could and enjoy the end of the Rally,” Santosh said.
The Indian team’s other rider Oriol Mena handled the pressure well and inched closer to his debut Dakar finish, with an eighth place finish in Stage 13. In overall rankings also he stands at eighth position.
The final stage, Stage 14, will be contested in Cordoba itself, where the riders will need to keep focus as they cross last 30 kms of the Rally.