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Dakar Rally: Rain, chilly winds greet competitors in Bolivia, Kevin Benavides takes lead

Honda Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides of Argentina overtook overnight leader Adrien Van Beveren of Yamaha Factory Racing (bikes segment), while Hero MotoSports’ CS Santosh is 51st after the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally. Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret lead the cars section.

other sports Updated: Jan 12, 2018 18:41 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, La Paz (Bolivia)
Dakar Rally 2018,Kevin Benavides,Adrien Van Beveren
Honda motorbike rider Kevin Benavides of Argentina fixes his neckerchief upon arrival in La Paz, Bolivia, after completing the Dakar Rally stage 6 on Thursday.(AP)

The contrast couldn’t have hit Dakar 2018 competitors harder as the rally moved from Peru to Bolivia. From tackling sand dunes till Wednesday to braving mountains, rain and sharp winds on Thursday, the competitors faced it all on their way from Arequipa to the Bolivian capital, La Paz.

The conditions were so harsh in the sixth stage that the first 119 km of the timed sections was cancelled. The rain followed the riders and drivers all the way to La Paz in the 194 km special section that was eventually staged.

Honda Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides of Argentina, perhaps using his local know-how, overtook overnight leader Adrien Van Beveren of Yamaha Factory Racing (bikes segment). Benavides finished second on the day to take an overall lead of one minute and 57 seconds.

Santosh 51st, Mena 21st

The only Indian left in the competition, Hero Motorsports’ CS Santosh, finished 38th in stage 6 to hold on to his 51st position in the overall classification. The Indian team’s other rider, Oriol Mena, finished 23rd in the stage to stay put at 21st.

With the route filled with mud, some of the riders played it safe and didn’t take any risk. However, after the sand dunes, the mountain setting meant a good rise in pace. With eight more stages to go, most of them would aim to go full throttle when the conditions are favourable.

“The rain made life harder for the competitors. The bikers were the worst sufferers. I personally don’t like riding in these conditions. For me, it was all about sticking to basics. The rally got really fast since coming to Bolivia but one should not get overexcited to overtake unnecessarily,” Santosh said after the day’s action.

Surgery for Aravind

Sherco TVS Factory Rally team’s KP Aravind, who suffered a broken ankle during the fifth stage, may need surgery. He was the best performing Indian till the fourth stage, when he was 44th overall.

“After yesterday’s crash, I am feeling better now after getting medical attention. I would like to thank all my fans and well-wishers for their love and support all through Dakar. The doctors in Lima have informed me that I will require surgery once back in India. So I am focused on staying positive and recovering so that I can get back on the bike quickly, “ he wrote on a social media.

In all, more than 72 vehicles spanning all categories have withdrawn from the race till now. However, there was no such concern for veterans Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret, representing Peugeot Total, in the car category. They maintained their lead over teammates Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz by finishing second in stage 6.

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 09:21 IST