SAN JUAN DE MARCONA, Peru – The seventh leg of the 2019 Dakar Rally through the Peruvian coastal desert heated up in the motorcycle competition on Monday, where US rider Ricky Brabec (Honda) moved back into the lead, unseating Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), while in automobiles it appears to be almost a foregone conclusion that Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiya (Toyota) will take the title.
This leg of the race was a 323-kilometer (200-mile) stretch that started and ended in the coastal town of San Juan de Marcona and was one of the most complicated stages of this year’s rally, with almost 100 km over dunes and another 200 km over very rocky terrain. The race started in foggy weather that caused one portion of the stage to have to be cancelled.
The first motorcycle rider to cover the route was Quintanilla, who began the day in the lead spot but ended in fourth place in the general classification, after losing time because he had to blaze the trail for the following riders through the difficult landscape.
The result was that both Brabec and Australia’s Toby Price (KTM), along with France’s Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) surpassed the Chilean in the rankings, although the four top riders are separated by less than 10 minutes, overall.
“It was a question of time, whereby they overtook me. The idea was that Ricky would not get (further ahead) than I can recover. On Tuesday, the situation will be reversed. I’ll set out from behind and I have the chance to recover time,” said Quintanilla.
In autos, Al-Attiyah has practically clinched the Rally, given that he has been so far out in front in his Toyota since the third stage.
Frenchman Sebastian Loeb, who began the day as the Arab’s main rival, had a difficult run, with his car experiencing electrical failures on a couple of occasions that caused him to lose about half an hour.
The winner of the stage was Stephane Peterhansel, also from France, followed by Spaniards Joan Roma and Carlos Sainz, both driving for Mini, in second and third place, respectively.
It was Peterhansel’s second stage win in this year’s Dakar and his 76th during his career participating in the Rally, a circumstance that enabled him to recover second place in the general classification, albeit about half an hour behind Al-Attiyah.