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Debut Dakar stage victory for Meo

Dakar 2016

maddix park mx

Five-time enduro world champion Antoine Méo won a special in his maiden Dakar today. The shortened stage showed how fast the French rider has adapted to a new field of motor sports. It was an impressive win for the official KTM rider, who beat last year's runner-up Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) and Kevin Benavides. Gonçalves expanded his margin over Toby Price (KTM) and Štefan Svitko (KTM), while Matthias Walkner, who sat in third place this morning, crashed out of the race.

A day to remember. Antoine Méo more than made amends for yesterday's stage, where he was undone by navigational mistakes. The official KTM rider went full steam ahead and dominated the stage throughout at a pace no-one else could follow, with the gaps on the line showing just how fast he was today. The only dark spot in what was an almost impeccable day for him was when the race was discontinued in the second timed section, leaving him yearning for more.

Severe thunderstorms swept the initial part of the special after 30-odd motorcycles had already entered the sector. The rain caused a río to flood the course around km 15 and render it impassable, leaving the organisers no choice but to stop the race.

Paulo Gonçalves (Honda), who stopped for over 10 minutes to help Matthias Walkner at the start of the stage, should expand his lead on Price (KTM) and Svitko (KTM) after adjusting for the time lost in the process.

Rest Day tomorrow.

Toby Price   "We had a good first week"

"I've led the race for the last two days. I won yesterday, but I don't know exactly how high I finished today because riders who stopped to help Matthias will get the lost time back. It's great to keep an eye out for others. Anyway, I'm happy with my performance today. There were Australian flags at the finish of the special. It's nice to get support when you're racing so far from home. You must never drop your guard, it's the best way to make mistakes. I'm happy with the work we've done so far. It's far from over, a mechanical or a navigational mistake can destroy everything. My aim is to finish the race and get a podium spot. We'll see... We had a good first week, no significant mistakes. Our objective was to get to the rest day in a good position."

Paulo Goncalves  "If I can repeat this in the second week…"

"At the start of the special, I stopped to help Matthias Walkner, who had taken a tumble, and I stayed with him until Pablo Quintanilla got there. The first part of the stage featured some navigation, but then the profile was a bit like two days ago, with lots of ríos. In the second special, after the neutralised sector, it was raining cats and dogs, I was almost scared, it was almost snow. The weather cleared up a bit towards the end. I'm rather pleased with today's stage, and even this week. If I can repeat this in the second weeks, I'll certainly be very pleased, but I think the stages will be very different, so we'll see."

Antoine Meo  "I wanted to be in the top 10… It's even better"

"The first part was real tough, we couldn't see the terrain properly because of the sun glare. I really enjoyed the ride after the neutralised sector, I caught two riders and, because it was moist, there wasn't any dust… Awesome. I rode fast, I made no mistakes, and I navigated properly towards the end. I felt much better than yesterday, so I attacked a bit. I'm happy. I'm discovering the Dakar, it's still hard to judge. I wanted to be in the top 10 and, so far, it's even better. I try to be consistent and not to get too tired. I'll do my best to keep it up. I feel okay physically, but I know we've still got to tackle the toughest week. I'll stay relaxed and we'll see."

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