In the bivouac at La Paz today there was no rush and little noise of running engines. It was a moment for riders to catch up on the sleep that they’ve missed over the previous days and a chance for the mechanics to work on the machines. The Monster Energy Honda Team readies itself for the crucial second and final week of the racing.MONSTER-ENERGY-HONDA-TEAM-REST-DAY-03

The balance sheet of the first six days of racing reads positively, with two stage victories for Joan Barreda and the overall leader board currently topped by Kevin Benavides – both riders with strong chances of clinching the outright prize at this Dakar 2018. The first week was an arduous task, but both the Honda CRF450 RALLY and the riders endured the strains without any setbacks. Ricky Brabec rode some fine stages in Peru, as did Michael Metge, although the Frenchman dropped time after being sanctioned for failing to validate a waypoint point due to an instrument failure. A worthy mention also goes to young José Ignacio Cornejo, who replaced the injured Paulo Gonçalves at the eleventh hour, who has adapted quickly to a previously unknown motorcycle with very solid results.

The team is now preparing for the second week of racing and can expect eight tough stages across both Bolivia and Argentina. The first part, with rain and mud forecast at an altitude of over 3500 metres, and the second, with desert areas such as those of Fiambalá or San Juan.
Tomorrow competitors will tackle the first of the marathon stages between La Paz and Uyuni, featuring 425 kilometres of special stage followed by a night in the bivouac where no external mechanical assistance is allowed. The second leg of the marathon will finish up on Sunday in Tupiza.

Team Support

Monster Energy Honda Team has been able to devote themselves to preparing the 2018 Dakar thanks to the support of various collaborators and team sponsors. Principally Monster Energy, which gives the title to the team. Furthermore, Monster is in the race with two vehicles: a support truck and a press 4×4 vehicle. Their energy drinks, such as the new Monster Hydro, provide glucose and vitamins and help reduce fatigue.MONSTER-ENERGY-HONDA-TEAM-REST-DAY-01

Another of the great collaborators, Motul, supplies all the oils, lubricants and cleaning material for the motorcycles. In this Dakar, Motul has brought a laboratory truck to analyze the oils used by the bikes. The riders rely on Michelin tyres to face the Dakar, with the French brand offering a range of different tyre types and the ‘mousse’ that competitors rely on to make it safely through hundreds of kilometres. Showa has put a mechanic at the disposal of the team, exclusively dedicated to the suspensions of the five Honda CRF450 RALLYs. GIVI also supports the team with specific technical materials. The mandatory survival kits are supplied by the Italian brand, as are the essential handguards for the stages in altitude where temperatures can drop below zero. Italian brand Termignoni manufactures the top quality exhaust pipes and silencers that adorn the Honda CRF450 RALLYs of Barreda, Benavides, Metge, Brabec and Cornejo.MONSTER-ENERGY-HONDA-TEAM-REST-DAY-02

The riders outfits are supplied by is Alpinestars, which provides the highest quality and comfort required. The plastics are provided by Acerbis and other bike components and equipment used by the team are supplied by such technical collaborators as ARC, Beta tools, DID, FCC, GAT, Kiron, Kyocera, Laika campers, Insect Shield, Moonfactory, Nissei, Noguchi seats, Peli technical boxes, PIAA, Renthal, RPM Films, Shindengen, Supersprox, Toray Carbon Magic, Urban Tucano clothes, Twin Air, Vibram shoes, Wings and goggles 100%.

Equally essential to the Monster Energy Honda Team is the support from the Honda family itself: Honda Peru has collaborated with the team during the first part of the race, offering infrastructure and logistics, and likewise Honda Motor de Chile and Honda Argentina.

Taichi-Honda-Monster-Energy-Honda-TeamTaichi Honda

Monster Energy Honda Team Rally Large Project Leader


In La Paz we have finished six days of racing with good results, we are satisfied with that, but there are still seven more days ahead and each one has to focus on doing his job, to be able to arrive as best we can and with the best options of winning the race. The five stages of dunes have punished the bikes, but we have checked the condition of all the bikes and they are perfectly capable of holding out for the rest of the stages as they have not suffered any damage.



The week has been very good and I think the balance is super-positive for me. In Peru it has been hard and I tried to take care of myself a lot, because it was, to a certain extent, pretty dangerous. There was complicated navigation in Peru, which was to be expected, but we did well. I have arrived in Bolivia as race leader and it is fantastic, but now we have to cross Bolivia, with different terrain and reach my beloved Argentina. There is still a long way to go and we must stay calm.

Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing

What an opening week it’s been for the 40th Anniversary edition of the Dakar Rally! From a team point of view, has the fact that the first week’s been so challenging, exciting and dramatic taken you by surprise?

Alex Doringer: “I think we’re always ready for Dakar to deliver drama. Dakar challenges every team member, and always delivers highs and lows. Obviously, Sam’s departure from the race was disappointing for everyone. But all of our riders have delivered some amazing performances so far and have arrived at the rest day full of confidence and looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

The event is far from over, but what are your thoughts on the 40th Anniversary edition of the Dakar Rally, from what you’ve seen and experienced during the first week? 

AD: “Dakar is unique and Dakar is always special. Starting in Peru this year, with the iconic sand dunes, was great. It was challenging for the riders but I think for those following the race it was ‘true’ Dakar. The weather obviously had a big impact on the 2017 event, but this year’s event is definitely special. ASO, Marc Coma and his team always put in a huge amount of effort and energy, but this year there’s something extra – I think everyone knows the 40th edition is very special. The variation of terrain has been fantastic, and with stages in Bolivia and Argentina ahead of us it’s only going to get better and better.”Red-Bull-KTM-Rally-Factory-Racing-Dakar-Rally-2018-rest-dayEveryone knows that the rest day isn’t truly a rest day as there’s always work to be done, but how important is it for riders and teams to have a break from the racing? 

AD: “The rest day is hugely important for everyone involved in Dakar. Our mechanics get the chance to carefully check our bikes, to ensure everything is ready for the coming days. It allows everyone to take some time to think about everything that’s happened during the first week and to prepare for the second week, and to eat and sleep well ahead of what’s going to be some hard days of riding. The mechanics get a rest from the driving and travel and the riders get to focus on recovery, ahead of two marathon stages. The rest day is a very busy time.”

When it comes to the riders Sam Sunderland experienced the extreme highs and lows of Dakar during the first week. How is he, is there any update on his situation? 

AD: “What happened to Sam can happen. It wasn’t so much a mistake, really just bad fortune. An unlucky moment. He landed heavily and compressed his back. He tried to ride on, but smartly realised that something wasn’t right and stopped. He is on his way back to Europe where he will get checked out again but I’m sure he’ll be back riding and racing again soon. Coming into an event like Dakar with the #1 on your bike, that brings pressure to a rider. Sam managed that very well and started the event calmly before delivering some great results. I can say he was very focused and fast.” 

There have been some great performances form all KTM riders. It’s Matthias Walkner who’s best placed after five days of competition, is he looking forward to the second half of the event? 

AD: “Matthias has enjoyed a great first five days. He’s really enjoyed the stages and it’s really showed in his performances. Matthias is very strong and very determined so as the difficulty of Dakar increases we know he’ll be able to rise to it. We know there’s a long way to go to the finish but we know Matthias is very focused on improving his position. He’s ready.” 

Considering the injury issues both Toby Price and Antoine Meo had over the last 12 months, it must be very rewarding for all of the team that they’re both doing so well? 

AD: “Yes, knowing what each of them has been through makes it extra pleasing for the team. Seeing Toby and Antoine do so well isn’t really a surprise, because we know how talented they are as riders. But after such a long time away from competition, coming back to the Dakar is a huge undertaking. Toby struggled so much after his crash in Dakar last year, just to get to the start line was a huge thing for him. Toby is a fighter and loves a challenge, and when he’s on a bike he’s where he should be. He’s happy, motivated and although he knows the second week of Dakar will be especially tough for him due to his relative lack of fitness, he ready to get stuck into it.” 

Antoine Meo’s form is also very impressive. His time away from Dakar and competition in general doesn’t seem to have hampered his performance in any way! 

AD: “Antoine’s win on stage five was the confidence boost he needed, to remind him of what he’s capable of. Two years he’s been fighting against injury, and many riders would have walked away. Both Toby and Antoine have been through a lot, but you’d never know that as they’re both so positive and are always joking and lightening the mood within the team. They stay together during the event and work very well together. Like Toby, the second week of the event will be tough for Antoine but he’s very positive and the more technical stages ahead should suit him.” 

As she always does Laia Sanz has unquestionably risen to the challenge of Dakar! 

AD: “Having Laia in the team is something we’re very proud of. She’s so popular here in South America, which is great to see. The respect the other riders have for her is incredible, and it’s hard to explain how professional she is and how much she wants to do well for not only herself but everyone that supports her. She’s very strong physically and mentally, and well placed to take on the coming week. The new bike has really helped her and we’re confident that she’ll rise to the challenges ahead, like she always does.” 

Finally, what are your thoughts on the stages and challenges that lie ahead? 

AD: “With more riding to be done than has been done, things will undoubtedly get tougher and tougher. Especially with two marathon stages. We expect the second marathon stage will be hugely important to the end result. The weather will also play a part, we expect rain in the days ahead. Then in Argentina things will change again. It’s amazing how close the competition is between the riders at the top of the overall results. Everyone in the team is ready for the challenge ahead and we’re confident that our riders will continue to give their all and fight to the finish.” 

With eight stages left to contest, covering over 5,000km, the majority of the 2018 Dakar Rally is yet to come. Saturday marks the first of the two marathon stages the bike riders have to endure – they will receive no assistance from their teams during these overnight stops. On Monday, the rally crosses the border into Argentina. At lower altitudes, temperatures will soar and the riders, already exhausted from 1,000s of kilometres of racing, will need every ounce of their strength to complete each day. Finally, on Saturday January 20th after covering over 9,000km, the winner will be crowned at the Argentinian city of Cordoba.

 Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team

Yamaha Riders Gear Up For A Thrilling Second Week At Dakar Rally

Enjoying a stellar first week of competition at this year’s Dakar Rally, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team riders remain focused on their ultimate goal of making history for Yamaha in this 40thedition of the prestigious event. With Adrien Van Beveren winning a stage and currently placed second overall and Xavier de Soultrait also within striking distance to the top of the leader board, the team enter the second week of racing in South America knowing they have what it takes to battle for the coveted final victory.2018-dakar-rally-rest-day-Yamalube-Yamaha-Official-Team

Getting some well-deserved down time during the rest day in La Paz, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team riders have had the chance to assess their progress so far and analyse their plans for the second week, which starts tomorrow. More than happy with the performance and reliability of their WR450F Rally machines in this opening part of the race, the rest day of La Paz offered team mechanics the chance to thoroughly inspect and prepare the four bikes ahead of a further 5,200km of racing.

Leading the team’s efforts in this year’s event has been Adrien Van Beveren. Winning a stage and holding on to the provisional overall lead for three consecutive days, the Frenchman has his eyes set on continuing his solid performance. Less than two minutes behind the provisional overall leader with eight more long stages to go, Adrien will settle for nothing less than the top spot of the final podium in Argentina.

Receiving a two-minute penalty by race organisers due to slightly surpassing the speed limit in a part of the timed special, Xavier de Soultrait is currently seventh in the provisional overall standings. Showcasing acute speed and the ability to navigate even in the most demanding of conditions, the Frenchman knows he has what it takes to battle for a potential podium result in Córdoba.2018-dakar-rally-rest-day-Yamalube-Yamaha-Official-Team-02

One of the most consistent racers in this year’s event, Rodney Faggotter is confident of an equally good second part of the race in Bolivia and Argentina. Feeling great aboard the WR450F Rally machine, the Aussie will look to get closer to the top 10 in the overall standings.

Successfully battling through a challenging stage four, Franco Caimi is still in the game and looking towards the finish in Córdoba. Focused on some good individual stage results, the Argentinean will also look to provide assistance to his Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team partners whenever necessary.

Confirming the brand’s status as a dominant force in the Quad category, Yamaha riders continue to occupy the first seven spots in the class’ provisional standings. With Ignacio Casale currently leading the overall standings by an impressive 41 minutes, there are 12 Yamaha powered riders inside the top 15.

Featuring two marathon stages and another 5,200km through the mountains of Bolivia and the trails of Argentina, the coming week will be demanding for all competitors. The race continues tomorrow with the opening part of the first two-day-long marathon stage taking racers from La Paz to Uyuni.

Adrien-Van-Beveren-Yamalube-Yamaha-Offical-TeamAdrien Van Beveren – Yamalube Yamaha Official Team #4

2nd Overall

“I had a really great first week of racing here in South America. While trying to be fast, there were lots of times I had to open the tracks and I think I did quite well. I’ve worked a lot to improve my navigation skills and it all pays off now. We’ve made some great progress this year and winning stage four also felt great. It’s good that we had some time to relax here in La Paz and I’m ready to enter the second week of racing. My strategy for the coming week remains the same. If I know I can push, I will attack as much as I can and when I know I need to navigate I’ll do it. I’m feeling very confident now on the bike and this is important for the next stages. These last two stages were exhausting, but physically I am feeling great. I think all the ingredients are there for me to battle for the final victory and I’ll do my best to make it happen. We’re less than two minutes behind the overall lead now and the main goal is to be first when we reach Córdoba.”