Hondas hit back as Price drops over 30 minutes

Joan Barreda Bort pic: ASO/Frederic Le Floc’h/DPPI

Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort and Ricky Brabec have jumped to the top of the Bikes classification as Toby Price lost over 30 minutes on Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally.

Both Barreda Bort and Brabec got lost on the opening stage but they finished first and second respectively on the 685km journey from Bisha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir and now occupy the same positions overall.

Price, on the other hand, has dropped from the lead to 16th in the general classification, 17:39s off the pace, after a trying day for the bulk of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team.

UPDATE: Price officially elevated to 15th due to a penalty for a rival rider

Australian rookie Daniel Sanders was second-fastest to the third-last waypoint before losing over 10 minutes in the next 47km, but was still best of the Austrian marque’s works squad on Stage 2 and is now within four minutes of Price’s overall time.

Barreda Bort was fastest to every waypoint of the 457km timed special, generally stretching his margin over Brabec through the day such that it was 3:55s at the end of the stage.

All told, a total of 6:23s separate the Monster Energy Honda riders in the event thus far, while Monster Energy Yamaha’s Ross Branch is just 14 seconds further adrift.

Branch grabbed the fourth-fastest stage time, while third on the day lifted Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) from outside the top 20 to fourth overall.

Price led the field out but gave up ground throughout the stage to be exactly 32 minutes slower than Barreda Bort to the finish, with the Australian at one point spotted repeatedly trying to clear a sand dune (See below).

Sanders looked like being one of the stars of the day, clocking a time just 3:23s slower than Barreda Bort’s to Kilometre 351, but ended up 16:31s slower than the Spaniard at the finish of the special.

He sits 18th overall in his first Dakar, 21:11s off the pace which includes a seven-minute penalty incurred on the first stage for speeding.

Sanders’ and Price’s days were straightforward compared to that of team-mate Matthias Walkner, who encountered a gearbox-related problem and was forced to make repairs to his bike on stage (See below).

The 2018 Dakar champion began the day in third overall but is now 46th at best having haemorrhaged more than two hours before he got to the first waypoint at Kilometre 46.

On the other Red Bull KTM, Sam Sunderland fared better but still dropped from fourth to 12th in the general classification and is now 12:50s off top spot.

Australian Michael Burgess (BAS Dakar KTM) slipped from 34th to 42nd, 1:49:00s off the pace, while compatriot and fellow debutant Andrew Houlian (Nomadas Adventure) is still going.

The latter was again among the later starters due to time lost with an electrical drama on the Prologue, but had gained almost 30 positions on Stage 1 to sit 69th at that point of the event.

Stage 3, on Tuesday (local time), totals 629km around Wadi Ad-Dawasir, including a 403km special.

HIGHLIGHTS: Price struggles to climb a sand dune

HIGHLIGHTS: Walkner repairs bike on stage

General classification: Bikes Top 10*

Pos Rider Nat Make Time/Gap
1 Joan Barreda Bort ESP Honda 08:15:38
2 Ricky Brabec USA Honda +0:06:23
3 Ross Branch BOT Yamaha +0:06:37
4 Pablo Quintanilla CHI Husqvarna +0:07:16
5 Xavier de Soultrait FRA Husqvarna +0:08:25
6 Adrien van Beveren FRA Yamaha +0:08:34
7 Luciano Benavides ARG Husqvarna +0:09:07
8 Skyler Howes USA KTM +0:09:31
9 Stefan Svitko SVK KTM +0:10:23
10 Lorenzo Santolino ESP Sherco +0:10:51

* 15th Toby Price (AUS, KTM, +00:17:39)

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