Pune: Dakar debutant Oriol Mena and his Indian teammate CS Santosh tackled the tricky Stage 7 and did much better that the earlier stage after the much-deserved rest day at La Paz.
The Dakar Rally went on the road again with the first Marathon stage kicking off to Uyuni where a change in software was required for the riders as the landscape changed from sandy dunes to lot of off-piste, river beds and harder ground and the stages become longer and faster from here on.
In a stage where any assistance was not allowed, the team halted after the marathon stage with Mena finishing 17th that allowed him to break into top 20 rankings.
Santosh also had a good day, finishing the stage in 39th position and an overall ranking of 40 at the end of Stage 7.
There was a good news for the Hero MotoSports Team Rally fans as Joaquim Rodrigues, who crashed out early on, reached Portugal safely is undergoing recuperating procedures.
On the top of the table, French Yamaha rider Adrien van Beveren reclaimed the overall lead from Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, on a Honda. Van Beveren was three minutes and 14 seconds clear of his rival.
Stage 8 will see the rally move through to Tupiza for the second leg of the Marathon Stage, which will test the riders with the longest special stage of the rally, covering nearly 500 kms, including a high altitude dune crossing. Tupiza will be the last halt for the rally in Bolivia before changing the borders again and crossing over to Argentina.
Sainz takes Dakar lead
Spaniard Carlos Sainz seized the lead in the Dakar Rally from Peugeot team mate Stephane Peterhansel on Saturday after the defending champion struck a rock and lost an hour and 45 minutes repairing his car.
Sainz, father of the Formula One driver of the same name, won the 425km timed section of the 727km seventh stage from La Paz to Uyuni to lead Toyota’s Qatari driver Nasser al-Attiyah by an hour and 11 minutes.
Peterhansel, who had been 27 minutes ahead of Sainz after leading the rally from Peru into Bolivia, hit a rock while trying to overtake a motorbike at the 186km mark and came to a halt.
The Peugeot’s left rear wheel, upper suspension link, shock absorber and radiator were all damaged.
The Frenchman was helped back on the road by compatriot and team mate Cyril Despres, the five-times Dakar winner who had long dropped out of contention for the overall victory. Peterhansel ended the stage third overall, an hour and 20 minutes off the lead.
Stage 7 Classifications: 1. Joan Bort Barreda (Honda) 5h 11m 10s, 2. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) +02m 51s, 3. Kevin Benavides (Honda) +08m 02s…17. Oriol Mena (Hero Motosports Team Rally) +25m 25s…21. Juan Pedrero Garcia (Sherco TVS Rally Factory) +34m 47s…39. CS Santosh (Hero Motosports Team Rally) +01h 33m 11s.
Overall: 1. Van Beveren 21h 49m 18s, 2. Benavides +03m 14s, 3. Barreda +04m 45s…16. Garcia +01h 23m 25s…20. Mena +01h 34m 44s…46. Santosh +06h 20m 23s.