Speed, hazards on the track and high temperatures were just some of the factors at play on a high-speed day two at the Dakar in the Chaco region. The heat continues to be the leading protagonist in the early part of the rally which is proving to be as punishing to man as it is to machine. As riders crossed the line their tyres were showing clear symptoms of the extreme conditions that they are being subjected to.
The four Monster Energy Honda Team riders got off to quick start, notching up times that kept them amongst the leading pack. Today’s 275 kilometre special covered various terrain types and was littered with multiple dangers: rocks, ditches and fords… not to mention animals straying onto the track in front of the competitors.
Joan Barreda, one of the fastest throughout the day, had a near-miss with a cow, the Spaniard choosing to play it safe for the latter part of the special, dropping time to the eventual stage winner. His Monster Energy Honda Team buddy Paulo Gonçalves, was also riding like a bat out of hell, taking second spot on the day and second overall as the Dakar 2017 leader board begins to take shape.
American Ricky Brabec was in the fray too, keeping the pace with his teammates, to post seventh at the flag and sixth in the general standings. Frenchman Michael Metge, who set off from second place at the start, like Barreda, chose to put precaution first, avoiding any hazards and saving the team any scares in the early stages.
Tomorrow competitors can expect a tough, lengthy stage where riders will get their first taste of the Bolivian altitudes to be endured over the forthcoming stages.