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STAGE 12: CANCELLED – One less chance to put up a fight

  • The cancellation of the Fiambalá timed special takes down Dakar 2018’s last great challenge.
  • Farrés faces the last two stages in a fight for third position with the factory KTMs of Price and Meo.
  • While Rosa Romero returns to Spain, the other four components of the Himoinsa Team are still in the race.
  • Rosa Romero will land in El Prat airport tomorrow, January 19th, at 16.30pm

Dakar is a survival race in which the participants, in addition to driving on the hardest terrain in the world, must adapt day after day to the challenges of the weather, nature, regulation and organization. As it has been usual in recent years, a stage cancellation has altered this final stretch of the event and leaves the general classification almost fully decided with just two stages to go, which will in theory be more bearable. What was expected to be the final “hell” of this rally in the dreaded dunes of Fiambalá was finally canceled for the motorcycle and quad category after a meeting between organizers and competitors in the camp. The survivors of Dakar 2018 expressed the danger that leaving all the bikes behind cars and trucks entailed,  due to the deterioration of the terrain, the rocks hidden under the sand, ruts and other obstacles that compromise the integrity of the riders, who had also just completed the first half of the marathon stage, without having received assistance in the camp. Consequently, the 87 motorcycles that remain in the race tackled a long liaison towards San Juan, where tomorrow they will confront the penultimate stage of this 2018 edition.

In these circumstances in which security and logistics prevailed, some of the contenders were more benefited and others were harmed. In the case of the Himoinsa Team, Gerard Farrés lost a clear opportunity to get back on the podium due to this incident. The experienced Catalan rider has always stood out in adverse conditions, excels in the more complicated stages and is a master of navigation, something he wanted to take advantage of in his fight to get on the box, in front of the very fast factory riders who could struggle in Fiambalá. In fact, Miguel Puertas had a plan for the day: “We have to ride with all our focus set towards navigation, Gerard will start sixth with all his rivals in front and must be focused waiting for one of them to make a mistake, which is a very possible outcome in this kind of terrain.” Without that opportunity and with two stages of fast tracks ahead, Gerard’s options to put a new finishing touch to his career are reduced, which nevertheless does not spoil the great Dakar he is having.

For Dani Oliveras, tired but already recovered from the altitude sickness that made him struggle in Bolivia, the stage was going to be a good opportunity to try to sneak into the race’s Top 10, something which is still in his reach in this rally which has always managed to surprise even the more experienced riders. The other two components of the Himoinsa Team did smile when they heard of the cancellation; Marc Solá because he had suffered a spectacular crash in the previous day, and was sore and exhausted, and Ivan Cervantes because he had struggled to barely make it to the camp after he damaged his rear wheel during the stage.

Gerard Farrés: “It has been decided that the stage will be cancelled for our safety, and this decision is the same for everyone. It is true that we lose an opportunity to try to improve the classification, but there are still kilometers to be covered in this Dakar, and it is necessary to be ready for every day without relaxing, so we will stay on the gas these two last days. We are all very tired because, although there was no special we have spent the whole day on the bike and at this point our bodies are truly exhausted.

General classification

1st Matthias Walkner, 36:33:37

2nd Kevin Benavides at 32:00

3rd Toby Price at 39:17

4th Gerard Farrés at 49:17

11th Dani Oliveras at 2:26:13

21st Marc Solà at 5:07:07

30º Iván Cervantes at 9:01:14



Next stage: San Juan de Marcona – San Juan de Marcona (Special: 330 km – Total: 444 km)

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