Pune: Spanish rider Oriol Mena of Hero Motosports achieved something special on his Dakar debut as he broke into top-10 of overall rankings with three stages remaining in the world’s most gruelling race, the Dakar Rally 2018 that reached Fiambala Mountains in Argentina at the end of the eleventh stage on Wednesday.
Mena continued his great form to finish the first leg of the Marathon Stage 11 to finish at 9th position. This result put him at 10th in overall rankings. “Today was an important first leg of the Super Fiambala Marathon stage. The starting order for today was mixed with trucks and cars so it was really confusing in the beginning. The navigation as well was quite tough and the soft sand made it physically exhausting, making the stage feel longer than it was,” said Mena.
Following a forgetful Tuesday, Mena’s Indian teammate CS Santosh rode steadily and gained the lost ground. He did well to reach the Fiambala bivouac and finish the stage in 33rd place, which took him to the overall ranking of 34th.
“Today I was still very tired from Stage 10 so my mission was to make it to the marathon bivouac. Now I just need to get some rest and renew my energy and focus for the second leg of the marathon stage,” said Santosh.
For the bikes, Stage 11 was the first leg of the Marathon stage as they covered a liaison of 205 kms and a special stage of 280 km to camp overnight in the Fiambala Mountains.
The Stage left the riders without the assistance crew for the second time in the rally. On Thursday they will have no devices to tend to themselves as well as their bikes.
Walkner takes nothing granted
Austrian motorcyclist Matthias Walkner (KTM) has said that he is concentrating on avoiding mistakes as he edges closer to becoming the first competitor from his country to win the Dakar Rally.
“Every day can change everything. I have to stay focused day after day. I don’t think so much about victory,” he said on Wednesday after coming in fifth in Stage 11, 11:01 behind the winner, teammate Toby Price of Australia.
The Austrian grabbed first place in the general classification on Tuesday during a stage that saw then-leader Adrien Van Beveren withdraw with an injury and several other contenders in the bike race lose big chunks of time after getting lost on the course.
Kevin Benavides (Honda) trails Walkner by 32 minutes with three stages left for its Cordoba finish.
Stage 11 Classifications: 1. Toby Price (KTM) 4h 01m 33s; 2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) +01m 38s; 3. Antoine Meo (KTM) +06m 31s; 4. Ricky Brabec (Honda) +07m 34s; 5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) + 11m 01s…8. Juan Pedrero Garcia (Sherco TVS Rally Factory) +22m 46s; 9. Oriol Mena (Hero Motosports Team Rally) +27m 00s…33. CS Santosh (Hero Motosports Team Rally) +01h 25m 08s.
Overall: 1. Walkner 36h 33m 37s; 2. Benavides +32m 00s; 3. Price +39m 17s; 4. Gerard Farres Guell (Himoinsa Racing) + 49m 17s; 5. Meo +59m 05s…10. Mena +02h 13m 07s…14. Garcia +02h 37m 03s…35. Santosh +10h 20m 09s.