LA PAZ – Argentina’s Kevin Benavides (Honda) finished second in Thursday’s sixth stage of Dakar Rally 2018 to claim the overall lead in the motorbike category.
The first Argentine ever to lead the Dakar bike race reached the line just 30 seconds after the stage winner, Frenchman Antoine Meo (KTM), and nearly three minutes ahead of the erstwhile leader in the classification, France’s Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha).
Even so, Benavides has a lead of only 1 minute, 57 seconds, over Van Beveren.
Third place belongs to Austrian rider Matthias Walkner (Red Bull), followed in fourth by another Frenchman, Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha).
Walkner and De Soultrait finished eighth and ninth, respectively, in Thursday’s race from Arequipa, Peru, to La Paz.
Spaniard Joan Barreda (Honda) sits in fifth place, trailing Benavides by three minutes after coming in 11th in the stage.
The timed portion of the stage was slashed from 313 km (194 mi.) to 196 km amid heavy rains along the route, which took competitors around Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest-altitude navigable body of water.
Racers will get a rest day on Friday to help them acclimate to the high altitudes of the Bolivian altiplano and prepared for the eight remaining days of the contest, which ends Jan. 20 in Cordoba, Argentina.