After a well-earned rest day, the Dakar Rally rudely returned to life with stage seven in Bolivia, the opening leg of the marathon stage…

Paulo Gonçalves has been extremely consistent from the start, but he knows he also needs to win if he is to triumph in Buenos Aires. It was mission accomplished for him on Sunday as he claimed his second Dakar win in the stage from Iquique to Uyuni and stayed in contention for the overall win.

“It was a very hard stage,” told Goncalves. “I caught the riders in front of me and stayed with them because they were setting a strong pace. It started raining halfway through the stage, and it got very slippery and dangerous.

The ambitious Paulo Gonçalves spent the first week waiting to jump on any opening left by the Joan Barreda/Marc Coma leading duo. However, the Portuguese rider stepped right into the fray on the way to Salar de Uyuni, taking his first win in 2015 by a wafer-thin margin of 14 seconds over Marc Coma and moving up to ten minutes behind overall leader Barreda.

“With about fifty kilometres to go, I got a horrible headache,” continued Goncalves. “But I got here with the motorcycle safe and sound. Now it’s time to rest and, at any rate, get to work a bit, as there’s mud all over the motorcycle.”

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The first part of the marathon stage did not go according to plan for the leader of the Honda clan, who took a tumble 200 km into the special and smashed his handlebar.

The Spaniard rode heroically with one hand for 120 km, but saw his lead in the general classification halved. He will have to repair the motorcycle alone this evening and hope one of his teammates can give him a spare handlebar.

Matthias Walkner had a much better day at the office, finishing third half a minute behind the leader and ahead of Pablo Quintanilla and Toby Price, confirming the rise of the new generation. Michael Metge, on the other hand, fell and lost 39 minutes.

Laia Sanz picking up her best result of the rally so far placed 14th. She sits 14th overall.


Battling their way into the second half of the race and through the opening leg of the marathon stage the Pavey duo of Llel and Si are now 70th and 71st overall.

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