The penultimate stage at Dakar was marred with terrible weather as visibility dropped to as low as five metres, which meant riders were cautiously before hitting the top speed. Tackling some challenging weather conditions, Sherco TVS Factory Team Rally rider Michael Metge pushed beyond the challenges and won Stage 9 with his spectacular performance. Michael managed to beat the riders from Yamaha, KTM and even Honda to take his the stage win and now sits 22nd in the overall standings as he aims to complete the rally in a dominant spot. Stage 9 saw the riders complete the loop section in Pisco over a run of 313 km in the special section. The penultimate stage also witnessed another mass start in the waves of 10 riders each, which made the day even more enthralling.
Speaking on his fantastic win, Michael Metge said, "It is an unbelievable feeling to win a stage at Dakar. The stage was challenging as there was lots of dunes and fesh-fesh. I started in the second line at the wave start and I pushed all the way through the stage. Soon I caught up with the first riders and I went past the leader quite quickly. Full credit to the team mechanics for preparing my bike, which has been performing beautifully in the sand dunes. I dedicate this win to my wife, and two children, who are my pillars of support.
Stage 9 saw a mass start again in waves of 10 riders each. The terrain was a mix of dunes and soft gravel making for a very fast stage. Sherco TVS' Adrien Metge had a strong run too and finished 20th at the end of the stage and sits 23rd in overall standings, a position below brother Michael. India's Aravind KP struggled with the stage after facing issues with his bike and dropped to 55th place at the finish line. The rider nevertheless, was happy about completing the stage against all odds and continues to hold on to 39th place overall.
Speaking on his performance for the day, Aravind said, "It was a mixed day for me but that's what Dakar is about. I started really well taking the lead in the mass start. But things changed halfway when my bike had some issues. These were tense moments as I wanted to complete the stage at any cost. Thank god for the local help who assisted me in starting the bike and finishing the stage. That is the spirit of Dakar and I am lucky to have experienced it."
Joaquim Rodrigues endured severe back pain from the previous day to finish the stage in 19th place. The rider had a hard fall and even damaged his bike. Nevertheless, the focus was on completing the bike with just one day of the rally left. Rodrigues sits 17th in the general classification. Rodrigues, "Hard day today, I had a crash and damaged my bike a little bit. My back is still sore from yesterday so I decided to just take it easy and focus on reaching the finish line safely. So despite the difficulties we are across the finish line today with only one more day to go."
Oriol Mena was in good form and managed to complete the stage without any incident. The rider finished the stage in 11th place and currently sits 9th in overall rankings. Speaking about his performance, Mena said, I am happy with my stage today. It was a mass start and there were all kinds of things happening around me, like guys going in wrong directions, losing way points, engines breaking and so on. So I decided to shut myself off and do my own race with my own rhythm and flow. One more day in the book, and only one day to Lima."
The final stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally will witness the riders complete a 112 km loop of Pisco for the special stage before moving to Lima for celebrations.