Monster Energy Honda Team’s Honda CRF450 RALLY bikes continue to steal the limelight at the 2021 Dakar. As the race resumed after the rest day, Ricky Brabec commanded the opening leg of the marathon stage, with Nacho Cornejo finishing behind him. The Chilean rider currently holds the rally leadership by a tight margin.
The second week of racing got underway with the first part of the Marathon stage, connecting the Ha’il bivouac to the Sakaka bivouac, which will be off-limits to mechanics and outside assistance. The day’s stage featured 471 kilometres against the clock out of a total of 737 kilometres. Upon arrival at Sakaka, riders were able to check the condition of their bikes and all reported arriving without issues. Today’s stage included mountains, sandy tracks, rocky areas and high-speed winding tracks.
It proved a favourable day for Ricky Brabec, who came out determined to play his strongest hand in a bid to keep any end-of-rally options open. Monster Energy Honda Team’s American rider reached the finish-line, registering the best time of the day, to claim a second stage win so far in this Dakar. The current champion lies eighth in the overall standings, 14 minutes behind the race leader.
José Ignacio Cornejo also had a noteworthy day. The Chilean – a fine navigator – finished with the second quickest time of the day and, after almost 29 hours of rallying, becomes the new Dakar overall leader with a single second advantage over the nearest second-placed rival. The rider from Iquique arrived problem-free at the parc fermé aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY with the bike’s tyres still in good condition and will now prepare to tackle the second leg of the marathon stage.
Joan Barreda was the first rider to set off from the Ha’il bivouac this morning. The Spaniard set a solid pace which, by the end of the special stage, had served as a damage limitation exercise. The rider from Castellón conceded just nine minutes to his team-mate and eventual stage winner Brabec. Joan currently holds sixth place overall, ten minutes off the leader.
In fifth place overall, just ahead of Barreda, was Kevin Benavides, some 7’29” behind Cornejo, after finishing somewhat late on the day. However, the Argentine from the Monster Energy Honda Team will attempt to make up time and positions in the second part of the marathon stage that takes place tomorrow. In store will be a total of 375 kilometres of timed special, on a total stage of 709 kilometres, before arriving at the Neom bivouac.