Eazi Grip

Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally

Monster Honda’s Joan Barreda proved the man to beat, claiming victory on the second Dakar 2021 stage and clinching the overall race leadership.

But these two feats weren’t the only thing Barreda was celebrating. With this race, the rider from Castellón takes his Dakar Rally stage victory tally to 25, the fourth best rider in the Dakar role of honour. Barreda held a six-and-a-half minute margin over the day’s runner-up, team-mate Ricky Brabec.

“It was a very good stage. We were forced to attack from the very first kilometre until the end and the truth is that it went well,” said Barreda.

“But this is only the second stage of the Dakar and we know that it will be difficult starting from the front once again. You have to stay calm, try not to make any mistakes and take it stage by stage.

He added: “Unfortunately we didn’t win, but I’m not sure if I want to win a stage for the rest of this Dakar. It bit us hard yesterday. It’s going to be a long Dakar. We are going to do our best each day to finish each and every day.

“We’re trying to make up time that we lost. Right now we’re in a good spot. We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to keep the bike moving fast. I feel the navigation wasn’t that tricky. It’s a different story when you are opening the stage.

“My team-mate Kevin found that out today. He’s a solid opener, but he had a couple of issues. He lost time as well as Toby. We are safe and healthy and ready for day three.”

KTM rider Toby Price says he isn’t alarmed to have lost 32 minutes to Honda rival Joan Barreda on the second stage of the Dakar Rally, even though he admits the margin looks bad “on paper”.

Two-time Dakar champion Price opened the road on the 447km test on Monday following his win on Sunday’s opener, but struggled on a sand dune-heavy route and finished down in 28th position, exactly 32 minutes behind Barreda.

The Australian was also hampered by a minor problem with his KTM’s fuel system that affected him for most of the second half of the stage.

Having struggled on the opening stage, Barreda now leads overall from Honda teammate Ricky Brabec, while Price is 16th overall, 17 minutes and 39 seconds adrift.

But Price is unfazed by that deficit, saying the advantage is likely to ebb and flow between different groups of riders as they take turns to be first on the road.

“We only had one little navigation error where we got lost a bit and circled around, but I feel like I did a good day with the navigating and riding,” he said.

“We had a bit of an issue with the bike towards the end, 130km from the finish it was just missing [something]. I had to keep switching between the fuel pumps and try and keep the thing running a little bit. But about 10km from the finish it had cleaned out and it was wide open, so I think it might have been the fuel pump or an injector.

“It doesn’t look good on paper but we’re definitely still in the race. I think you’ll see a lot of this happening, [riders going] backwards and forwards. We’ll see how we go.”

Walkner “sad” to lose podium chances

While Price believes himself to be in contention still, the same can’t be said for KTM teammate Matthias Walkner, whose hopes of a second Dakar title already appear to be over.

The Austrian rider came to a stop early in the stage to address a transmission problem, and finally got going after an agonising two hour, 15 minutes spent repairing the bike.

“After 45km I stopped at one dune, I turned back, and then I had a problem with the clutch,” recalled Walkner. “I took a lot of time to make the bike ready because the clutch was f***ed and I had to stop some riders to help me.

“There were so many riders [who stopped], I think it was one of the last ones, a really friendly Indian guy [Ashish Raorane], he helped me for the clutch, but then I lost my tools in the sand because something fell down.

“It’s pretty bad when already on the second day it’s like this. Finally also the riding when I continued, I rode without the clutch, but it was quite nice and I enjoyed riding. But to fight for a podium, this is done, and this makes me a bit sad.”

Sam Sunderland is KTM’s best-placed factory rider overall in 12th, 12m50s behind Barreda.

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021 in News

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