As the 2020 Dakar Rally reaches the halfway mark, Stage 6 proved to be especially challenging for the Indian contingent with Hero MotoSports’ Sebastian Buhler and Sherco TVS’ Johnny Aubert retiring from the rally.
After steadily climbing his way into the overall top 20, Buhler was running as Hero MotoSports’ leading rider. However, an engine issue forced him to retire on Stage 6. But like his team-mate Joaquim Rodrigues, who retired on Stage 1, he’ll be returning to run the rest of the stages under the Dakar Experience class. Those competing in the class won’t qualify for an overall ranking, but they can compete for stage results. “I was riding well until the second refuel point. After that, the bike developed some issues and stopped. I tried to get it started but, in the end, it didn’t start. So now, we will look into the issues and try to fix it and restart the race after the rest day,” he said.
However, Stage 6 did bring some positives for Hero MotoSports. Paulo Goncalves bagged yet another top 10 finish to continue a strong recovery following his Stage 3 setback. An 8th place stage result propels the Portuguese rider to 46th place in the overall standings. CS Santosh admitted that the stage proved to be particularly tough on his injured arm, but he managed to complete the stage in 32nd to move up to 36th place overall. Rodrigues, meanwhile, finished the stage in 27th place.
Sherco TVS also had to endure its fair share of problems with Johnny Aubert crashing out just 2Km from the finish line. The French rider suffered injuries to his head and ribs and was evacuated by the medical team. It remains to be confirmed whether he’ll be continuing the rally under the Dakar Experience Class.
Adrien Metge continues to hold on to 11th place in the overall standings after securing a 22nd place result in the stage. Lorenzo Santolino’s 47th place stage finish means he now slips down the order to 16th place overall. Harith Noah finished down in 106th place, but there’s an incredible reason behind this result. Since he’s now running in the Dakar Experience class following his Stage 3 retirement, the Indian rider decided to give up his bike’s throttle cable to help out his team-mate Aubert. He went on to complete the rest of the stage using the broken cable from Aubert's bike.
Ricky Brabec clinched his second stage win this year to further consolidate his overall lead in the bike category. The Honda rider now leads the 2020 Dakar Rally with a strong 20 minute advantage over Husqvarna’s Pablo Quitanilla. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz continues to lead in the car category following his 2nd place finish in Stage 6.
Following a much-needed rest day, the second half of the 2020 Dakar Rally will kick off on January 12 with the longest stage of the rally from Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir.
Overall results after Stage 6
36. CS Santosh
46. Paulo Goncalves
11. Adrien Metge
16. Lorenzo Santolino
Dakar 2020, Stage 5: Adrien Metge inches closer to top 10; strong stage for CS Santosh