Honda newcomer Schareina surprises at the Dakar Rally

The 46th edition of the Dakar Rally and the fifth in Saudi Arabia is about to begin. Honda newcomer Tosha Schareina won the short prologue. Daniel Sanders (GasGas) and Ross Branch (Hero) followed a few seconds behind the Spaniard.

On Friday there was a short warm-up to determine the order for the first stage. There was a 27 kilometer short timed special around 130 kilometers from the bivouac in Al-‘Ula. 132 motorcycles rolled down the starting ramp in reverse order.

The last participants on the entry list tackled the timed section at 8:30 a.m. local time. The top favorites followed around two hours later at the end. The terrain was challenging as it involved larger rock formations and sandy soil.

Four drivers stayed under the 18 minute mark. In addition to Schareina, Sanders and Branch, that was also Adrien van Beveren (Honda). Rally raid world champion Luciano Benavides has start number 1 stuck on his Husqvarna. The Argentine came fifth.

His brother Kevin Benavides (KTM) returned to Saudi Arabia as defending Dakar champion. He finished the prologue in ninth place behind his teammate Toby Price. KTM did not fill the position of the injured Matthias Walkner.

There were a lot of high-profile names in the top 10. This also included the Honda duo Sam Sunderland and Pablo Quintanilla. In addition to the well-known brands, a Chinese brand that is not so well known in Europe also attracted attention.

This is Kove. Last year this motorcycle made its debut at the Dakar Rally. A factory team is also at the start this time. In addition, Mason Klein drives a Kove as a private driver in the RallyGP box office. The American finished the prologue in tenth place.

The German Sebastian Bühler finished the prologue with his Hero in 17th place. The Duisburg native, who lives in Portugal, lost just under a minute and a half to the top. For the rally, I set Bühler’s goal for a result in the top 10.

In previous years there was a coefficient for the prologue of motorcycles. Their time was multiplied by a set value for the overall ranking, which increased the time gaps before the first stage. That does not exist anymore.

The top riders can now choose their starting position for stage 1 later in the day on the stage in the bivouac. There are still time bonuses for the opening drivers, but in a different form than last year. Only the first driver gets a time credit.

It is one and a half seconds per kilometer depending on the set distance, which varies depending on the stage. But all other drivers in the leading group who are within 15 seconds of the leader on the track also receive this credit.

The first real stage is on the program on Saturday. A total of 532 kilometers have to be covered on the way from Al-‘Ula towards Al-Henakiyah. The rated special is already 405 kilometers.

Result of the prologue (Top 10):

01. Tosha Schareina (Honda) 17:35 minutes 02. Daniel Sanders (GasGas) +0:12 minutes 03. Ross Branch (Hero) +0:19 04. Adrien van Beveren (Honda) +0:24 05. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) +0:26 06. Sam Sunderland (GasGas) +0:28 07. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) +0:47 08. Toby Price (KTM) +0:51 09. Kevin Benavides (KTM) +0: 56 10. Mason Klein (Kove) +0:58