Joan Barreda won the stage by almost three minutes to getting closer to the overall lead, but a knee injury during the stage that may potentially force him to retire from the event,“I was doing well and had recovered several minutes when in the middle of the storm I left the track and the bike fell on me, hitting my left knee,” Barreda explained.
“I had the doctors look me over and they have told me that there is nothing broken, but that I have some liquid inside the knee.
“Let’s see if they can fix it and tomorrow we will start to try to hold on to the stage, although I saw the stars when I had to put my leg down on some corners.”
Toby Price maintained his spot in the top five despite a few of crashes of his own. The Australian charged late in the stage, conceded almost six minutes to Van Beveren after at one stage being over 10 off the Yamaha rider’s pace.
“It was so muddy out there, the first part of the stage took us straight into it, then we had some nice fast hard-pack to race over but then towards the end of the stage, things got really wet again, which can make navigation hard,” Price said.
“It’s more important to take your time and spend a couple of minutes doing things right than get lost and waste half-an-hour.
“I’m generally happy with how things are going, after not being on the bike for 12 months things get a little rusty – not just your riding, but your ability to navigate well, too. I’m starting to get my rhythm back though and it feels really good.”
However, Price’s bike may need a bit of work to be race ready for the second half of the marathon test.
“My bike is ok for tonight, but we will need to work a little on Toby’s as he came off a couple of times today,” Price’s KTM teammate Antoine Meo said, after finishing ninth on the stage with a one minute penalty.
“Tomorrow is the longest special of the event, so we’ll need to try and get some good rest for that.”
Fellow Australians Rodney Faggotter and Scott Britnell also made it to the overnight stop unscathed.
Faggotter’s role as the support rider for the factory Yamaha squad cost him a spot in the top 20 on Stage 7, finishing over 56 minutes off Barreda’s pace after having to stop and help teammate Franco Caimi after a crash, the latter eventually retiring for good after bogging his machine in a deep mud puddle.
Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren returned to the lead after finishing the day second overall, taking over five minutes out of Honda’s Kevin Benavides.
Overall Results after Dakar Rally stage 7:
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) 21:49:18
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +3:14
- Joan Barreda (Hon) +4:45
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +8:18
- Toby Price (KTM) +13:34
- Xavier De Soultrait (Yam) +16:39
- Antoine Meo (KTM) +18:40
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +20:47
- Gerard Farres Guell (Yam) +33:27
- Stefan Svitko (KTM) +33:53
- Ricky Brabec (Hon) +39:34