The Monster Energy Honda Team is going all out in the battle for the Rally Dakar 2017 as the squad posts their best podium finish to date. Ricky Brabec picked up top honours for the first time in the rally, with team-mate Paulo Gonçalves taking second spot.

After an opening week where the Monster Energy Honda Team put on a fine display of quality, the team once again got straight down to business in the first stage of week two, climbing the overall leaderboard in the process.

“Today was good Brabec said at the end of the route. “It was the first day of the marathon after the rest day. The track was good and the navigating went well. There was more off-road than on-road, which is more my style. I’m happy to be here at the finish-line in spite of my slide out in the grass where I went swimming. These bikes are pretty slippery in the mud. I’m happy to come away in one piece, healthy and ready to go tomorrow.

Recent heavy rain continues to wreak havoc with the Bolivian road system and subsequently the scheduled Dakar route. Not only did this force the complete cancellation of the sixth stage over the weekend, but it also saw the seventh stage suffer heavy modifications. The stage was, in the end, raced over half of the originally planned course with a total of 160 kilometres against the clock, rather than the 322 of the programme. Part of the stage, between La Paz and Uyuni, featured dune-filled routes that had been scheduled for stage six together with other slippery, mud-soaked stretches.

Although yesterday’s re-routing of the timed sections did little to favour the Monster Energy Honda Team, the modified stage seven nevertheless saw the team in an especially gung-ho spirit, going flat out out of the gate. The result was all four of the team placing amid the top six finishers.

Rally leader, Red Bull KTM’s Sam Sunderland, rode his KTM 450 Rally into the finish line in Uyuni four minutes and 43 seconds behind Brabec to maintain his overall lead of the rally.

Joan Barreda, like his team-mates, came out guns blazing in a bid to win the stage. However, a minor error saw him take a parallel route that required more caution and more time. The fourth place on the stage does, however, allow the Spaniard to move two positions up the overall rankings and back into the top ten overall.

The next stage of the rally sees the Dakar leave Bolivia and re-enter Argentina. The stage concludes in Salta, home of injured Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides, who will be reunited with his team-mates at the end of the two-day marathon stage. Riders, of course, are not permitted to receive any kind of outside mechanical assistance, although they can work on the bikes themselves.