#Dakar2020 | SA rider on brink of breaking into Top 10

Stage 7 of the 2020 Dakar Rally, on Sunday 12 January, was the longest and most varied Stage of this year’s race. 

In both the Car and Original by Motul Categories, competitors backed by Motul have managed to stay the course despite the fact that almost a quarter of all competitors had withdrawn by the end of Friday’s Stage 6. 

In the Original by Motul category, a third of all starters had withdrawn by the time of the rest day in Riyadh (the Saudi Arabian capital) on Saturday. 

After achieving a 33rd position on Stage 6, the Sabertooth Motoring Adventure/Red-Lined team’s Nissan Navara finished in 36th position on Sunday, and the team have clawed their way back up to 40th position in the General Classification. 

dakar,team motul,

                       Image: Motul SA

Terence Marsh, CEO of Motul-backed Red-Lined Motoring Adventures, reports: “The guys had a couple of minor technical issues today, which cost them a little time. We made good use of yesterday’s rest day, having all our gearbox, diff and engine oils checked at the Motul Lab. Having access to this free testing service and technical advice has been a great help throughout the Dakar. Although the Motul experts found no issues at all, we replaced all the oils in preparation for today’s epic but fast Stage.”

Stuart Gregory also discovered that he could build up a good head of steam on Sunday as the Dakar entered Saudi Arabia’s notorious Empty Quarter. Although the route was punctuated by dunes, he found that he was able to ride flat out for long stretches at a time.

Once he had arrived safely in Wadi Al Dawasir, Gregory commented: “It was a good day for me personally, with a very fast Stage.” 

READ: From the Arctic to Saudi - SA man takes on world extremes in less than two months!

After finishing 17th in the Original by Motul Category on Friday, and 13th in Stage 7, Gregory has consolidated his 12th place in the General Classification. Although a Top 10 finish now seems attainable, he maintains that that is not his goal. 

He insisted: “My goal is simply to finish. I’m not really thinking about positions at this stage, as things can change so quickly in the Dakar.” 

Events on Stage 7 tragically demonstrated that finishing the Dakar is an immense achievement in itself. Paulo Gonçalves (#8) - a previous runner-up and true Dakar legend - passed away following a heavy fall. Monday’s Stage 8 has been cancelled for Bikes and Quads as a mark of respect for Gonçalves, and to allow riders time to mourn their friend and fellow competitor.   

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