The seventh stage of the Dakar Rally 2020 has concluded in Wadi Al-Dawasir with Kevin Benavides taking the top honours.
The very high number of kilometres on the stage seven agenda meant, for many, a day of open throttle. The second week of racing got underway with riders set to tackle the longest special stage of the entire rally (546 kilometres against the clock), from the country’s great metropolis Riyadh, southbound with destination Wadi Al-Dawasir.
The route took in varied terrain types, going from multiple tracks in off-piste plains, requiring maximum concentration, to long stretches of dunes, making up a quarter of the special.
The victory went to Kevin Benavides who headed out firmly intent on moving on from Friday’s bitter pill.
The Argentinean rider was in attack mode from the outset in a bid to clinch the stage, a goal which he achieved, coming home with a 1’23 surplus over brother-in-arms Joan Barreda.
Ricky Brabec, winner of stage six, started out intent on minimising the burden of having to open the track, a task which he carried out effectively, to post fifth on the day without conceding much time to his immediate pursuers on the leader board.
Chilean rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo kept the same steady pace as the opening week which has consented him a place among the overall top five. Today’s six place means the rider moves up to third place in the general rankings.
However, the day was saddened by the tragic death of Paulo Goncalves, rider with the team from 2013 to 2019.
A statement from the team read: “Today the rally showed its harshest side. Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves (5/2/1979) passed away while competing in the stage.
“Paulo was a rider with the team from 2013 to 2019, who, in addition to accruing various triumphs, was garlanded with the runner-up prize in the 2015 Dakar Rally and was the FIM Cross-Country Rallies world champion in 2013. Monster Energy Honda Team would like to offer its most heartfelt condolences to his children, family and friends. Rest in peace.”
Ricky Brabec: “On arriving we heard the news about Paulo. We all know that motorcycling is a dangerous sport, but today is a really sad day for the people of Cross-Country Rallies. Our thoughts are with the family. The race standings don’t mean anything anymore. It’s secondary. Life goes way beyond sport.”