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As the Dakar Rally 2019 is inching closer to the grand finale, the drama quotient wasn’t less in the penultimate stage of the rally. Team Sherco TVS got a big boost in the form of Michael Metge, who finished stage 9 in the first place. This is the best result for the team in a particular stage in this edition of Dakar. Overall, he is in 22nd position. Earlier Lorenzo broke in the top three in stage 5. Team Sherco TVS has dedicated Michael’s first place finish to Lorenzo Santolino, who went out of contention due to a crash in stage 6. Michael is looking to continue with his current form to end the rally on a high.
After winning the stage, Michael said: “It is an unbelievable feeling to win a stage at Dakar. The stage was challenging and there was a lot of dunes and fesh-fesh. I started in the second line at the wave start and I pushed all the way through the stage. Soon, I caught up with the first riders and went past the leader quite quickly. Full credit to the team mechanics for preparing my bike, which has been performing beautifully in the sand dunes. I dedicate this win to my wife and two children, who are my pillars of support.”
Aravind KP had a good start in the beginning of the stage, taking the lead for the first 190km of the stage. But due to mechanical issues he faced in the middle of the stage, he dropped down the order. Luckily he had some local help to get back in contention and finish the stage in 55th position. Overall, he has retained his 39th place. After stage 9, he said: It was a mixed day for me but that is what the Dakar is all about. I started really well taking the lead in the mass start. But things changed half way, as my bike had issues. There were tense moments as I wanted to complete the stage at any cost. Thank god for the local help who assisted me in restarting the bike and finish the stage. This is the spirit of Dakar and I am lucky to have experienced it.”
Adrien Metge didn’t push too much due to a physical strain. Despite his physical pain, he managed to finish the stage in 20th position, In overall rankings, he is behind his brother at 23rd position.
Both Oriol Mena and Joaquim Rodrigues, from the Hero Motosports Team Rally, kept their spirits up and finished the penultimate stage of the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally without any incidents. Mena was in good form again, finishing the stage at 11th position. This allows him to move a notch above to 9th position in the overall rankings at the Dakar 2019.
Rodrigues fought off severe back pain throughout the duration of the stage. He has been suffering from the previous stage and a crash in the current stage added to his problems. He finished at the 19th position in the stage and is now placed at 17th position in the overall Dakar 2019 rankings.
Stage 9 witnessed a mass start in waves of 10 riders each. Offering a run of 313 kilometers in the special stage, it presented the competitors a 50-50 mix of the dunes and soft gravel laden terrain, a recipe for yet another fast stage.
“I am happy with my stage today. It was a mass start and there were all kinds of things happening around me, like guys going in wrong directions, losing way points, engines breaking and so on. So I decided to shut myself off and do my own race with my own rhythm and flow. One more day in the book, and only one day to Lima,” said Oriol Mena.
“Hard day today, I had a crash and damaged my bike a little bit. My back is still sore from yesterday so I decided to just take it easy and focus on reaching the finish line safely. So despite the difficulties we are across the finish line today with only one more day to go,” said Joaquim Rodrigues.
The penultimate stage saw a mass start in waves of 10, similar to the first marathon stage. The riders had to ride through another loop in Pisco which is full of tricky sand dunes, which resulted in the elimination of many competitors. The total length of the stage was 410km. The final stage of the rally will see competitors cover a distance of 358km back to Lima, where it all started.
Provisional Stage 9 results are as follows: