In spite it being Sunday (local time), there is no rest for the Dakar. Far from it: today witnessed the longest stage so far in the 2019 odyssey at 839 kilometres. The route took competitors from inland to the coast – from the cold and wet heights of Arequipa to warm and windy San Juan de Marcona.

Riders rode the first 177 km-liaison section late yesterday evening which took the entourage to the impressive Tanaka dunes on the coast. Today the riders battled out an opening 84km-special, which was followed by an 18km neutralization section before the stage’s main trek – a tough 232km special which returned the bikers back to the bivouac in San Juan de Marcona.

Kevin Benavides fought nail and tooth for the stage win and nearly pulled it off, coming home less than two minutes shy of stage winner Quintanilla. However, the Argentine Monster Energy Honda Team climbed the overall leader board from seventh to fourth place, eating one minute into the overall leader’s time.



Californian Ricky Brabec dropped a little time today trying to validate an awkward waypoint, which saw him concede the privileged position of overall race leader, although the American remains just four minutes adrift of the top spot.

Nacho Cornejo, who moved up to second place after race authorities returned the time that he had spent assisting fallen rider Paulo Gonçalves in stage five, ended up opening the way for several kilometres. As a consequence of this disadvantageous position the Chilean dropped time but managed to keep pace with his adversaries.

Tomorrow, Monday (local time), sees the first of the looping stages which this edition of the Dakar will feature. Riders can look forward to the highest proportion of kilometres of Special Stage out of the total of 387 to be completed. The hundred participants still surviving will face 323 kilometres of special. The stage will have some complicated navigation and will play out over broken ground, as the area has already seen the vehicles pass over it on previous days.


José Ignacio Cornejo  10


Today was a good day. It was tough as there were a lot of stones and sand on the course. The first stretches had very soft dunes which were very difficult to pass. It turned out to be a good day for me. There was a section of special where I opened the track and I felt very comfortable and set a good pace. I am happy. We have four more days left and we will continue pushing.


Ricky Brabec  15


It was another tough stage. The temperature was nice but the wind was a big factor. It’s kind of hard to ride all day with the wind pushing you around. At one point for about 50 km I was concerned about fuel. I know that we had filled up at the top at kilometre 80 at the neutralization. I was freaking out because I ran out of one of my tanks earlier than expected. On the whole it was a good day. There’s four days left. I’m glad to be at this bivouac full of fesh fesh that makes everything such a mess. I’m looking forward to the next four days. Hopefully I can stay in the fight and keep pushing. I feel great and my body is at 100%.

Kevin Benavides  47


Today was a good day. I changed the strategy to start pushing this second week and today I started further out. The idea was to finish as well as possible later on, so this second position on the stage is fine despite having lost a bit of time towards the end. We have to keep going and not waste too much time in the remaining stages.


Raul Castells

Monster Energy Honda Team Manager

Today was a very good day for Kevin. In the end he was second, but everything went very well. Ricky had a minor loss of time at a waypoint, but it was a short time. In general, we are very happy with the three riders: we have two who are fighting for victory and Nacho is helping a lot. We will continue fighting for victory until the end. The first five of the general are very tight and anything could happen.


Results Stage 6

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 QUINTANILLA Pablo 6 CHI Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 03:50’47
2 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +01’52
3 WALKNER Matthias 1 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +04’21
4 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +04’48
5 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +05’48
6 BRABEC Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team +07’30
7 SVITKO Stefan 11 SLO Slovnaft Team +08’20
8 SHORT Andrew 29 USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +13’54
9 BENAVIDES Luciano 77 ARG Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +15’13
10 CORNEJO José Ignacio 10 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +21’47



Rider Standings


Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 QUINTANILLA Pablo 6 CHI Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 20:45’13
2 BRABEC Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team +04’38
3 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +05’17
4 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +08’01
5 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +09’32
6 WALKNER Matthias 1 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +10’46
7 SUNDERLAND Sam 14 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +21’06
8 SVITKO Stefan 11 SLO Slovnaft Team +31’56
9 DE SOULTRAIT Xavier 18 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +38’04
10 SHORT Andrew 29 USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +08’56
12 CORNEJO José Ignacio 10 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +01:10’54


Tyre manufacturing giant Bridgestone have released a new ‘Enduro’ tyre for 2019, dubbing it the Battlecross E50. The outcome of years of off-road technology development, the Battlecross E50 is road homologated and can be used for all Enduro competitions. Incorporating Battlecross Motocross technology, transferred and optimized for read Enduro usage, the Battlecross E50 is the tyre helping you overcome any obstacles and achieve the highest levels of performance on all types of terrain.

The new pattern design has dramatically increased the edge component of the blocks, 60% in the front and 120% in the rear, to improve both cornering and traction grip. Castle block technology offers a flexible tyre response on changing surfaces, thanks to an additional edge effect. The bunker area produces a small amount of extra traction power when the tyre is fully buried in the off-road surface.

The Battlecross E50 features an optimized dual compound division, and a redesigned shape and profile via a redesigned rim guard part. Both these improvements increase the mounting ease on the side of the track, and improve the tyre to rim fit.

When tested on a Husqvarna TE300, the new Battlecross E50 easily surpassed the previous ED66X tyre, on all surfaces. Traction, braking, and cornering feel improved substantially, along with better impact absorbing properties felt through the tyres. No matter what the conditions, the Battlecross E50 is definitely worth investing in for your Enduro riding, between stages as well as when the going gets tough!


The big annual Whakatane Summercross signals the start of the summer motocross season in New Zealand and it’s one event that all the major teams heavily target.

This event on December 29-30 is expected to attract the cream of New Zealand motocross to the loamy Awakaponga circuit, near Matata, just outside Whakatane, the Honda-sponsored spectacle again this year acting as a springboard for riders heading into the busy part of the season, one that will culminate with the four-round New Zealand Motocross Championships in February and March.

It will be hard to look much further than Mount Maunganui’s multi-time former national MX1 champion Cody Cooper for the likely main trophy winner for this popular post-Christmas blow-out, a rider who grew up in Opotiki before going on to became an international star.

Honda’s Cooper was the main winner at Summercross last year, as well as in 2016 and 2015 too. If he wins again this time around, it will be four in a row and Cooper’s fifth overall Summercross victory in total.

Cooper has been in top form this year, having finished a creditable 11th overall in the 450cc class in the national motocross championships in the United States, before racing for New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations in the US in early October. He also won the MX1 class at the Waikato Motocross Championships in early November.

Riding for the Blue Wing Honda, the 35-year-old Kiwi international will be joined in the Honda enclosure by MX2 (250cc) class specialist Wyatt Chase, from Taupo.

Two riders from overseas are also entered, Australian Caleb Ward (KTM) in the MX1 class and Canadian Matthew Stokes in the junior 250cc class.

Meanwhile, Motueka’s former Grand Prix motocross star Josh Coppins (Yamaha), who is also a two-time former Summercross winner, will line up in the MX1 class at Summercross on Sunday, along with Cooper’s Motocross of Nations team-mate Rhys Carter (Yamaha), Taupo’s just-crowned national supercross champion Cohen Chase (Kawasaki) and Reporoa’s Hadleigh Knight (Yamaha), who is just back from a season of racing in Japan.

All of these riders add even more depth to the racing and perhaps make picking a winner almost impossible.

The MX2 class will be bulging with hot talent too, Takapuna’s national MX2 champion Hamish Harwood (KTM) having to face up to top riders such as Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (Yamaha), Taupo’s national MX2 No.2 Brad Groombridge, the Suzuki rider who is also current national cross-country and enduro champion and Rangiora’s Micah McGoldrick (KTM).

Other talented riders to look for include Kotemaori’s Reece Lister (KTM), Taihape’s Hayden Smith (Husqvarna), Waitakere’s Ethan Martens (Kawasaki), Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly (Husqvarna), Oparau’s James Scott (KTM), Wairoa’s Tommy Watts (Husqvarna and Kawasaki) and Stratford brothers Scott and Camo Keegan (both Honda), these two men more often seen winning national titles on ATVs (four-wheeled all terrain vehicles).

It will also be worth watching out for hot local heroes such as Whakatane riders Charlotte Knight, Sophie Tierney, Brooklyn McGovern, Aaron Colville, Jordan Prosser, Troy Wilson, Alex Cloke, Jack Brady, Jak Purcell, Flynn Watts, Aydan Hall, Hadley Gibson, Brodie Hatcher and Colby Bain-Bakker.

The Honda Whakatane Summercross is a two-day affair, with minis and juniors racing on Saturday and the seniors, women and veterans racing on Sunday.

If this event doesn’t shake out the cobwebs, then nothing will, and riders and fans alike will use this as a form indicator before the next big race meeting, the annual Honda New Zealand Grand Prix at Woodville on January 26-27, followed by the four-round nationals that kick off near New Plymouth on February 3.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan

JGRMX/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing has announced its race teams for the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross series that includes two-time 450 Supercross Champion Chad Reed and Justin Hill.

In addition, Alex Martin will join Jimmy Decotis, Kyle Peters and Enzo Lopes in the 250 class. The four-rider 250 program will race with the all-new 2019 Suzuki RM-Z250.

Weston Peick, a 450 class favourite, will also return to the JGRMX/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Team for his fifth year. However, due to a serious injury at the Paris Supercross in November, where he suffered multiple facial injuries, Peick will not be competing until he is healthy and ready. Peick is hopeful to return to the track this season. Until then, he will be signing autographs and meeting fans at various Supercross races.

Fourth on the all-time Supercross win list, with 44 main event victories, Reed is easily one of the most popular riders in the paddock, and will contest the 17-round 450 Supercross series on a Suzuki RM-Z450. The 36-year-old had a busy off-season, sweeping the S-X Open in New Zealand and capturing the International FIM Oceania Championship. He looks to carry that success into 2019.



The New Zealand Supercross Championships wrapped up in the deep south on Saturday with new champions crowned in every class.

Taupo’s Cohen Chase showed that consistency counted most when he wrapped up the premier senior SX1 title, his 2-3-2 score-line at the series opener in Tokoroa a fortnight ago backed up by 3-2-2 results at Saturday evening’s final round at Winton, just outside Invercargill. He finished the series 13 points ahead of Nelson’s Reece Walker, with Dunedin’s Campbell King claiming third overall for the championship. Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke was again in scintillating form at Winton, scoring another hat-trick of wins in the senior SX2 (250cc) class, giving him a clean sweep for the series and he took the title by a massive 34 points from Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, with Waitakere’s Ethan Martens claiming the third podium spot for the championship.

In the senior SX Lites (125cc) class, the result was declared after the Tokoroa opener, with insufficient numbers entered for this class at Winton. Ohaupo’s Carlin Hedley, therefore, had done enough at Tokoroa to take the title for 2018, ending the championship ahead of Waiuku’s Nate Adams and Upper Hutt’s Brock Sullivan.

In the junior 250 class, Rangiora’s Korban Paget kept up the high work-rate to ease his way to the title. He had a solid lead after Tokoroa and won both of the early races at Winton. Even an out-of-character fifth placing after crashing in the last race of the series could not undo all the good work and he took the title by 13 points from Winton’s Connor Newell, while New Plymouth’s Curtis King completing the junior 250 podium.

In the Junior Lites (85cc) class, the two brothers who had been leading the series after Tokoroa, Hamilton pair Nicholas and Dylan Westgate, were no-shows at Winton, opening it up for Rongotea’s Rhys Jillings to dive right in and take the title. Invercargill’s Jack Symon actually won this class at Winton, his 1-2-1 score-card giving him the edge over Jillings’ 2-1-2 results, but he had to settle for overall runner-up, finishing just four points behind Jillings. Winton’s Jordan Newell claimed the third podium spot for this class.

This South Island round – billed as the “world’s southern-most supercross” – again attracted an impressive crowd of onlookers and the riders didn’t disappoint.

Motueka’s former Kiwi international Josh Coppins actually won all three SX1 class races at Winton but, as was the case with Oropi’s Ben Townley when he won all three SX1 races at Tokoroa, it was the sole supercross outing of the season for these two men and, with incomplete campaigns, they really had no chance of winning the title. In the end, Townley had still done enough to finish sixth overall, the Bay of Plenty rider on identical points to Coppins, although Coppins was awarded fifth overall on the count-back rule.

Motorcycling New Zealand supercross co-ordinator Noel May said he was feeling positive about the sport after this year’s series.

“We had been struggling a bit to get the entries up in supercross over the years, but we are now starting to see good growth,” he said. “We have a strategic plan that, over the next five years, we will be able to rebuild the junior segment to flow through and full the senior ranks. We had 85cc and 65cc support classes and 50cc demo races in the supercross this year, to introduce the sport to the young ones in the early part of their racing careers. Tokoroa has said they would keep their supercross track intact and we plan to have supercross events there during the summer. The same down south in Winton and Timaru, where the tracks there will be used regularly to help to keep the momentum going.”

The Tokoroa event this year, hosted by the South Waikato Motorcycle Club, was supported by Craig Stevens Yamaha and the Winton event, hosted by the Southland Motorcycle Club, was supported by Brent Scammell Honda.


Leading final standings in 2018 New Zealand Supercross Championships:

SX1 class: 1. Cohen Chase (Taupo) 98 points; 2. Reece Walker (Nelson) 85; 3. Campbell King (Dunedin) 76.
SX2 class: 1. Josiah Natzke (Mount Maunganui) 137 points; 2. Maximus Purvis (Mangakino) 103; 3. Ethan Martens (Waitakere) 102.
SX Lites: 1. Carlin Hedley (Ohaupo) 60 points; 2. Nate Adams (Waiuku) 47; 3. Brock Sullivan (Upper Hutt) 45.
Junior 250: 1. Korban Paget (Rangiora) 111 points; 2. Connor Newell (Winton) 98; 3. Curtis King (New Plymouth) 84.
Junior Lites: 1. Rhys Jillings (Rongotea) 99 points; 2. Jack Symon (Invercargill) 95; 3. Jordan Newell (Winton) 69.


Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan