Race to Dakar riders Simon Pavey and Matt Hall have raced BMW F650 GS Dakar motorcycles for almost 14 hours to complete the seventh stage of the treacherous 2006 Euromilhões Lisbon to Dakar Rally today. They only have one more day of racing before the official race Rest Day in Nouakchott. Team-mate Charley Boorman was forced to retire after breaking his hand on day five of the event and is following the event as part of the overall Race to Dakar project.
Today's seventh stage of 521 km took competitors from Zouérat to Atar, which included the longest special stage of the Rally so far - a demanding 499 km. Competitors navigational skills were tested and the organisers indicated that markers would be sparse on the road book - the navigational tool used by all competitors. Through Mauritania, riders and drivers raced over sand dunes and along stony plateaux and then slalomed through the wild camel grass to get to the end of the stage.
Five-times Dakar veteran Pavey competed today's punishing stage in 13hrs and 56mins and finished in 121st position. Race to Dakar team-mate and Dakar rookie, Hall finished in 122nd place. In the overall motorcycle standings, Pavey is in 113th position and Hall in 111th place.
Chilean rider Carlo De Gavardo won today's seventh stage with a time of 6hrs 28mins and 11 secs. Spanish rider Marc Coma was only 1m 27secs behind and Italian rider Giovanni Sala was third. Coma remains the overall leader of the Rally, followed by De Gavardo from Chile, with Spaniard Isidre Esteve Pujol in third. Mick Extance is the highest placed Brit in the Rally running in 36th position and Nick Plumb is the top-placed BMW rider in 72nd position.
Charley Boorman was forced to retire from the Rally after crashing and breaking his hand on day five of the event - one third of the way through his first Dakar rally. The stage from Ouarzazate to Tan Tan was 819km in length and included a 315km special stage.
Charley will continue to follow the rally to support his fellow Race to Dakar team-mates Simon Pavey and Matt Hall on their quest to get to the end of the arduous event. Charley will also be assisting with the further production of the Race to Dakar television series, which is due to be aired on Sky in October.
For more information about the Race to Dakar team, enthusiasts can visit www.racetodakar.com