The sixth stage was more than 700km long, featuring 100 per cent sand all the way from Hail to the resting camp in Riyadh
This is the point where the 2020 Dakar proves its roots, with the stages featuring more challenging sandy trails and dunes. Navigation gets tougher too, as tyre tracks can easily be misleading and the elevation of the dunes is not the easiest to judge. The rally pilots take a day off today on Riyadh, relaxing before the seventh stage kicks off tomorrow from Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir.
Stage six from Ha’il to Riyadh was 830km long, with 353km of transport stage and 477km of racing in the sand. The top three drivers are still in a fight for the top, with Carlos Sainz putting a strong hold on his overall lead. Nasser Al Attiyah is currently second on the chart, with his consistent second place finish behind Sainz. Nasser had yet another job to do apart from creeping up on Sainz, which is to hold off Stephane ‘Mr.Dakar’ Peterhansel who won the stage in his X-Raid built JCW Mini. The most popular rookie this year, Fernando Alonso and his co-driver Marc Coma lost focus during the last stage, following the wrong route, resulting in him facing the oncoming drivers. He quickly got the hint changed his direction, getting back on track for the finish. Alonso managed to complete the stage in sixth place. Saudi local Yazeed Al Rajhi also makes his way up into the top five.
An interesting Dakar fact: Nasser Al Attiyah has won three titles and a total of 34 stages till date. His rival, Carlos Sainz earned his 34th stage win in the sixth stage yesterday.
Monster Energy Honda’s Ricky Brabec extends his lead till the rest day while KTM’s Toby Price drops to third due to a 11th place finish in stage 6. Joan Barreda Bort makes it a 1-2 finish for Honda after finishing second in the stage. Bort is currently fifth in the standings behind teammate Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo. With six stages to go, the KTM squad still has an opportunity to make up for lost time, to grab their 19th Dakar title.
Hero MotoSport team riders achieved mixed results before reaching the half way mark at the 2020 Dakar Rally. However, Paulo Goncalves led the charge by finishing stage six in the eighth position which is his third top ten finish in a row.
Sebastian Buhler, who seemed well on his way to breaking into the top 15 suffered a technical issue with the bike and could not finish the stage. This put him out of contention for overall rankings but like his teammate Joaquim, he too will opt to start the race again in stage seven.
C S Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues, both had a steady stage and seemed confident in their 478km dash from Ha’il to Riyadh. Both of them successfully finished the stage in the 32nd and 27th positions. Now only two Hero riders are in contention for overall rankings – C S Santosh and Paulo Goncalves, standing at 36th and 46th positions respectively.
The Dakar Rally’s extremely enduring nature has had its impact of Hero MotoSports Team Rally. Even after impressive stage timings and good performances, the team suffered unfortunate technical snags. However, with the rest day today in Riyad, the team will look to recover mentally and physically before entering the second week of Dakar 2020. Stage seven begins tomorrow and at 546km, it will be the longest stage at Dakar 2020.
Sherco TVS Rally Factory team still has two riders – Adrien Metge and Lorenzo Santolino competing. Harith Noah gets to complete the rally in the ‘Dakar Experience’ category, while Johnny Aubert is out of contention due to an unfortunate crash. Adrien finished 22nd in the sixth stage, and is currently one spot short of the overall top ten. Lorenzo Santolino lost heaps of pace, but safely finished in 47th place and is now in 16th place overall.
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