Honda rider Joan Barreda Bort injured his knee badly on the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally this year, which he then went on to win. It took three more stages with a completely busted knee—one so badly injured that Barreda couldn’t even stand on it—before Barreda retired from the rally.
Barreda fell 186 miles into the 264-mile seventh stage, which goes from La Paz to Uyuni, per the Dakar Rally. Barreda finished the stage in second place overall behind Adrian Van Beveren and was cleared to continue by Dakar’s medical team. However, I’ll let him describe his injuries in his own words, as quoted by Motorsport.com:
I’m a little annoyed. We have done a good job, but towards the end I went off the track, there were some big water holes and I dropped the bike.
From the first moment, I could not get up with my leg, I even felt dizzy. It took me a few minutes to get up. Then I continued with a calmer pace.
A couple of times I could not support myself with the leg and I had to fall to the ground because my knee was totally unstable.
The truth is, the second part of the stage was quite fast, and I could finish the stage – but as soon as there are some technical zone and you have to put your leg on the ground, I had a very bad time.
“A very bad time” may just be the biggest understatement of the century. Yet Barreda toughed it through more bad times before ultimately retiring on Stage 11. Barreda toughed it through Stage 8 but slipped down the overall standings on his busted knee. Fortunately for him, wet weather conditions cancelled Stage 9.
However, Barreda went on to complete the excruciatingly hot Stage 10, where temperatures were over 104 degrees F in the shade. Sadly, he and a number of other riders strayed significantly off the rally route for over 50 minutes, losing any chance at a win.
It wasn’t until Stage 11 that Barreda’s knee injury finally forced him to retire. Barreda entered the stage once again in second place overall 39 minutes behind leader Matthias Walkner. However, the pain was too much when Barreda reached 60 miles into the nearly 174-mile eleventh stage, so he stopped, called for medical assistance, and retired from the rally.
I am fine with the thought that I will never be half as tough as Joan Barreda Bort, but I can’t help but to admire it. If Chuck Norris jokes were still a thing, I have no doubt in my mind that Chuck Norris tells Joan Barreda Bort jokes now.
The penultimate stage of the rally wrapped up Friday with none other than Mr. Dakar himself losing time to a crash. 13-time Dakar winner and Peugeot driver Stéphane Peterhansel lost almost an hour after hitting a tree today, pushing the lead—or at least a 1-2 finish for Peugeot—out of Peterhansel’s reach. Peugeot driver Carlos Sainz currently leads the rally.
On two wheels, 2016 winner Toby Price clinched his second stage victory of 2018 Friday, but Matthias Walkner still has a sizeable lead out of all the bikes. Ignacio Casale leads by one hour and 37 minutes in the quads, the No. 356 team of Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin leads in side-by-sides.
The trucks category remains close, however, with only one second separating the top two trucks overall going into Stage 13. However, second place contender Federico Villagra stopped for an hour and a half on stage, and Kamaz driver Eduoard Nikolaev ultimately held onto his lead.
We’ll see who takes the overall wins at the end of Saturday’s 14th and final stage.