Stage 10: Wadi Ad Dawasir to Bisha
Today’s 760 km journey took the competitors to Bisha, the last stopover before the finish line in Jeddah.
The day started very early, the first bike left around 4am. The remaining Nomadas Adventure riders left just after 5am and said it was nice to not be freezing cold in the morning.
The special was a very fast 375 km section, only 2% dunes and the rest sand and soil. Nomadas Adventure rider Vasileios Boudros (#147 – Husqvarna) said “it was crazy fast today in the sand pistes, I had one crash today and the airbag vest deployed but I didn’t lose too much time”.
Vasileios and Pablo Guillen (#35 – KTM) both had a great stage today coming 55th and 64th.
A flawless ride from Toby Price (#18 – KTM) has earned him a stage win and moved him up to 6th overall, but even he is saying he might be too far behind the leaders to claim a podium now. But this is Dakar!
Andrew Houlihan (#62 – KTM), travelling with Antonio Guillen (#111 – KTM) in the team vehicles, arrived in the Bisha bivouac around 11am.
“Although the competitors had 760 km to travel, our assistance route was only 300 km.”
“I’m really starting to miss being on the bike right now as we’re in the areas we rode at the start of last year’s Dakar and the terrain is spectacular. Fast deep sandy tracks that weave through beautiful rocky mountains and canyons.”
Misfortune and errors today have shaken up the overall rankings, and for the 4th day in row we have a different leader.
Kevin Benavides (#1 – KTM) has retired from the rally after his KTM failed about a third of the way into the special.
Sam Sunderland (#3 – GasGas), who held a commanding lead early in the rally, finished 17th today after stopping to help Mason Klein (#43 – KTM) and making a navigation error that sent him down the wrong canyon. And Matthias Walkner (#52 – KTM) dropped to 4th overall after a 26th place today.
That leaves Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren (#42 – Yamaha) at the top of the rankings and 5 minutes clear of Pablo Quintanilla (#7 – Honda) going into Stage 11.
Stage 11 is fairly short and loops back to Bisha but organisers are saying it’s the biggest technical challenge of the rally with some of the softest dunes on the desert.
With only 2 days to go, strategy and careful riding are now the keys to making it to the finish line in Jeddah.