Putting in a stellar performance today in the Bolivian mountains, Adrien Van Beveren has worked his way back into the lead of the 2018 Dakar Rally. Reaching the end of the first part of the two-day-long marathon stage without any issue, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider is now three minutes and 14 seconds ahead of his closest rivals in the provisional overall standings.
Making full use of his good starting position of eighth on Saturday morning, Van Beveren went into attack mode early in stage seven of the event. Getting faster as the race progressed, and reducing his gap to the provisional stage leader, Adrien brought his WR450F Rally home in second place. Starting the final leg of the event's opening marathon stage as the second rider to start, he will try to keep his momentum going during stage eight of the rally.
For Adrien's Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team partner Xavier de Soultrait, stage seven saw the Frenchman deliver yet another solid stage performance on Saturday. Wrapping up the day in eighth place, Xavier climbed one spot and is now placed sixth in the rally's provisional overall standings.
Remaining consistent, Rodney Faggotter claimed 31st today and is currently 23rd in the provisional overall. Stage seven proved to be challenging for Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Franco Caimi. Getting stuck in mud halfway through the timed special, the Argentinean rider was unable to finish the stage and will have to sit out the rest of the rally.
With Axel Dutrie topping the Quad class in stage seven, Chile's Ignacio Casale extended his lead in the provisional overall. With seven more stages to go, the Chilean rally racer in now more than one-hour ahead of the closest rival. Yamaha powered riders are placed in the first six positions in the class.
Featuring the longest timed special of this year's rally, Sunday's stage eight will be the second and final part of the first marathon stage. Including a 498km-long special, it will take competitors from Uyuni to the city of Tupiza, where all racers will meet again with their teams and support crews.
Alexandre Kowalski - Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Alexandre Kowalski - Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Director
"For us it was a day of mixed emotions. We took back the overall lead with Adrien and that was really positive for the rest of the rally, but at the same time Franco is unable to continue and he will have to sit out the rest of the race. Adrien rode a superb stage today. He pushed hard from start to finish and without making mistakes he managed to cross the line in second position. Adrien is now leading the overall by more than three minutes. Xavier also did a great job today and he is 16 minutes behind Adrien in the overall. Xavier made a small navigational mistake today together with a few other competitors, but it was nothing major. As for Rodney, he lost some time trying to assist Franco, before going on to continue his race and reach the marathon bivouac. Rod is super consistent so far and he will remain a key part of our team for the remainder of the race. We need him to continue supporting Adrien and Xavier. Franco had some problems more than 200km before the finish of the stage. He got stuck in one of the deep puddles, got covered in mud and was unable to continue. Franco showed some great speed this year so it is a pity he will not be able to continue. The race goes on tomorrow and we will be waiting to meet our riders in the Tupiza bivouac at the end of the first marathon stage."
Dakar Rally 2018 - Stage 7 - Provisional Classification
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 05:11:10
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 05:14:01, +02:51
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 05:19:12, +08:02
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 05:19:53, +08:43
5. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 05:20:03, +08:53
6. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 05:20:26, +09:16
8. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 05:21:13, +10:03
22. Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 05:55:35, +44:25
31. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 06:07:31, +56:21
Dakar Rally 2018 - Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 7]
1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 21:49:18
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 21:52:32, +03:14
3. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 21:54:03, +04:45
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 21:57:36, +08:18
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 22:02:52, +13:34
6. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 22:05:57, +16:39
23. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 23:45:36, +01:56:18
24. Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 3:57:39, +02:08:21
Source Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team official press release