MOQUEGUA, Peru – The Dakar Rally reached the southernmost point along its route through Peru’s coastal desert on Thursday, with Ricky Brabec emerging as the new leader in motorcycles after supplanting Pablo Quintanilla and with Nani Roma lying in wait to see who wins the duel between Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and France’s Stephane Peterhansel in the car race.
US rider Brabec (Honda), who was not on any of the lists of prospects to win at Dakar, once again proved that he has the proper rhythm to triumph and dominated Thursday’s leg between Arequipa and Tacna, Peru, to move to the top of the general classification, 2m29s ahead of Quintanilla.
The Chilean had a bad day on which he lost more than 20 minutes to the American.
Also losing steam was Argentina’s Kevin Benavides (Honda), who began the day in second position in the general ranking but ended it in sixth place.
The surprise of the day, however, was Spanish rookie Lorenzo Santolino, who worked his way in among the top 10 for the stage.
In the car race, Al-Attiyah (Toyota), who is leading the general classification, decided to opt for a cautious approach and spent the day driving just behind Peterhansel (Mini), who opened the route through the soft and trackless sand.
However, on Friday, the tables will turn and in all likelihood Peterhansel will shave the time difference in a battle among a large group of drivers, including Spain’s Roma (Mini), who rocketed up into third position in the general ranking.
The Catalan is 20 minutes behind Al-Attiyah and is cautiously maintaining a relatively large distance from him, albeit remaining close enough to chase him down if the opportunity presents itself.
In the UTV category, Spain’s Gerard Farres, to whom it fell to blaze the trail for the other teams on Thursday, lost the leadership spot in the race to Russia’s Sergei Kariakin, while in quads Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso once again provided a desert driving tutorial.