Dakar 2020, Day Seven: Kevin Benavides victorious. Brabec increases overall lead

Benavides on top in the special while KTM’s Price and Svitko tried to help Goncalves

Honda’s rider Kevin Benavides won the longest special of the rally while his teammate Ricky Brabec ridden safe and increased his lead in the overall standings from Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna).

The riders in the 2020 Dakar returned to action in the second half of the rally after a rest day. It was Kevin Benavides who was offered the stage’s win after his time was recalculated because he stopped to help Paulo Goncalves claiming his first stage win in this year’s Dakar.
 

Today’s special was the longest in the competition, 546 km long, and took the riders to Wadi Al Dawasir through small dune fields a few kilometres long.

Initially, it was Joan Barreda (Honda) who won the stage, but Benavides, Price and Štefan Svitko's (KTM) stopped to help Goncalves who had a crash 276 km into the stage and unfortunately passed away. Thus, the Dakar officials recalculated their times for the rider’s efforts to help.

"I'm happy to be back at a good rhythm. Today we started in the front positions. We stayed focused on navigation. The stage was really fast, always full gas. I was pushing really hard. I caught Ricky before the first refuelling and then we stuck together, more or less. It was really good because we pushed really hard on the dunes. There are a lot of kilometres left, but we are happy after all the troubles that we had in the first week and we will try to continue in this line," said Barreda.

Kevin Benavides was followed in the official timesheets of Stage seven by his teammate Barreda and KTM’s riders Matthias Walkner and Luciano Benavides. The overall standings leader, Ricky Brabec (Honda) didn’t take any risks and just ridden his Honda safely to the finish line of the special in fifth place. He increased his lead in the overall standings from Quintanilla to 24m48s.

"Today was so fast! It was crazy. Unfortunately, I started first, so it's a given to lose some time today. Joan caught me at km 170 and then from there we rode together all day. It's pretty nice to have a teammate to ride with every day and help navigate. I think Joan won the stage, but we're another day closer to the finish, so I'm happy. I'm just gonna regroup for tomorrow. It's hard to tell where your time is because we have a 15-minute neutralisation and Toby started really far back. The only riders I saw refuelling were, obviously, my teammate Joan and Matthias," said Brabec.

Quintanilla raced with a bout of tendinitis on his left hand and managed to finish today’s special eighth behind Honda’s Jose Cornejo and Toby Price.

"Today was the longest stage of the rally. I tried to create an opportunity to attack tomorrow. Tomorrow we'll have a few riders in front, so I'll try to attack and get back some time," said Quintanilla.

Third in the overall standings after Stage sixth, Price lost 1h23m making efforts to help Paulo Goncalves who had a crash 276 km into the stage and unfortunately passed away. Thus, Price’s time after today’s stage was recalculated by the Dakar officials, as well as Štefan Svitko's (KTM) time who also stopped to help Goncalves.

Stage seven results:

1. KEVIN BENAVIDES, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020, 04h36m 22s
2. JOAN BARREDA, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020, + 01m23s       
3. MATTHIAS WALKNER, RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM, + 04m17s       
4. LUCIANO BENAVIDES, RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM, + 04m48s       
5. RICKY BRABEC, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020, + 04m52s       
6. JOSE CORNEJO, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020, + 06m12s       
7. TOBY PRICE, RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM, + 07m57s   
8. PABLO QUINTANILLA, ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING, + 08m44s       
9. ANDREW SHORT, ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING, + 09m02s       
10. FRANCO CAIMI, MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM, + 09m 59s

Overall standings after Stage seven: 

1. RICKY BRABEC, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020, 28h25m01s
2. PABLO QUINTANILLA, ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING, + 24m48s       
3. JOSE IGNACIO CORNEJO FLORIMO, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020, + 27m01s
4. TOBY PRICE, RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM, + 28m44s
5. JOAN BARREDA, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020, + 29m29s       
6. MATTHIAS WALKNER, RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM, + 33m04s       
7. LUCIANO BENAVIDES, RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM, + 38m58s       
8. SKYLER HOWES, KLYMCIW RACING, + 01h15m02s     
9. FRANCO CAIMI, MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM, + 01h 15m31s
10. STEFAN SVITKO, SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM, + 01h19m41s






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