Sunday Paulo Gonçalves claimed his second Dakar win.
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.
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. 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.
Nelson Augusto Sanabria, who finished his maiden Dakar in twelfth place in 2014, was sitting pretty in seventh at the start of today's stage in Iquique. The Paraguayan was already delighted with that, but he was over the moon this evening after taking his first win in Uyuni. 5′46″ back, Rafał Sonik padded his overall lead over Ignacio Casale, who opened his suitcase of courage to finish 11′37″ down with an injured leg.