Another round is underway, but the cull has hardly begun in the bike category, with the exception of a few favourites who have left the race via the sick bay. On the second loop around Ha’il, a first major navigational challenge faced the bikers.
Adrien Van Beveren soon proved himself to be a master at this game, with the riders ahead of him on the tracks lacking instinct, starting with opener Joan Barreda who was the first to face the difficulties. In any case, whilst the other riders were trying to find the right route, the man from northern France who grew up on the sands of Le Touquet rode solo to a stage victory that puts him back in the hunt for the title. With this first success acquired on the Dakar behind the handlebars of a Honda, the 100th for the Japanese constructor, Van Beveren gained three positions in the general rankings to place himself 4’22’’ behind Skyler Howes, the new rally leader, whilst Daniel Sanders had an off day (see a crushing blow).
However, the situation is not set in stone, with the first seven riders all within a ten-minute time bracket after 2,000 kilometres of specials
Car stage winner: NASSER AL-ATTIYAH / MATHIEU BAUMEL (TOYOTA GAZOO RACING) Bike stage winner: ADRIEN VAN BEVEREN (MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM) Truck stage winner: ALES LOPRAIS / PETR POKORA / JAROSLAV VALTR JR (INSTAFOREX LOPRAIS PRAGA) Dakar Classic Leader: ONDREJ KLYMCIW / BILL CONGER (KLYMCIW RACING)
Photo © A.S.O./J.Delfosse/DPPI