Stage nine of the rally saw another motocross style mass-start with riders setting off in waves of 10, determined by their finishing positions from the previous day’s stage. Heading into the dunes for the 313-kilometre timed special, the first group of riders stuck together for the majority of the stage. Although it was in fact two riders from the second group who took the honours today, the top riders in the overall crossed the line just seconds apart.
With no real advantage gained on today’s stage, Toby Price successfully defended his lead in the rally’s overall standings. Just over one-minute separates Price and nearest competitor Pablo Quintanilla and the two rivals now head into tomorrow’s short final stage where they are expected to battle for the overall win of the rally.
Toby Price: “I got through stage nine today where we had the mass-start. There was no chance to make up any time or lose time really, I just had to stick with the group. Tomorrow is only a 100-kilometre stage, but I think it’s going to feel more like 300. The boys are really going to up their pace and all I can do is try my best once more and try to stay with them. If I can get through tomorrow and finish on the podium, I’ll be more than happy.”
Claiming a solid third place result on the penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally, Pablo Quintanilla is currently placed second overall, one minute and two second behind the provisional leader. With one stage still to be contested in Peru, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider is set to make history by securing Husqvarna’s best result at the prestigious annual rally.
Pablo Quintanilla: “I’m in a great spot right now to battle for the win and I’m really happy about that. Securing a podium result would be great for me and the team, but honestly my eyes are set on getting the win here in Peru. Today’s stage worked quite well for me. The mass start made it all more interesting. There were some tricky waypoints to make, but overall I felt good and managed to get a good time. Tomorrow I’m determined to give it all for the win. There’s just one minute separating me and Toby [Price] and the day will be long. No matter what happens tomorrow I am very satisfied with my performance at this Dakar. I gave 100% on each day and that’s what matters the most for me.”
Placed fourth on today’s stage, Matthias Walkner lies third overall in the general standings, six minutes and 35 seconds behind Price. Despite the deficit, Walkner’s advantage over the fourth-placed rider is considerable and the defending Dakar champion has no choice but to push on tomorrow’s stage to make up as much time as possible.
Matthias Walkner: “The stage felt really long today, partly because the pace was up and down all of the time. Riding in a group sometimes someone will push and everyone gets faster and then things will slow down again. Riding in the dust was tough and it made navigation tricky – we got lost a few times trying to find waypoints. I didn’t lose any time to the others though and I have a good gap to the next rider in the standings. Tomorrow there is no time for strategy, so I will give it my best and see where I finish.”