Honda: Ricky Brabec leads the Dakar with one stage to go

Monster Energy Honda Team’s Ricky Brabec holds on to the overall leadership of the 2020 Dakar Rally. The American is poised to tackle the final stage which could be a historical one for the Honda squad.

The second leg of the marathon stage unfolded without setbacks for the Monster Energy Honda Team. Today, in the penultimate special of the rally, the pretenders to the podium got one second-to-last chance to close the gap on the 2020 Dakar Rally race leader. Today’s stage, featuring 100 kilometres of dunes at the beginning of the special, favoured those in pursuit of the frontrunners and a group soon formed including Joan Barreda, Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides, all of whom made it to the final destination in Haradh without difficulties.

Chilean rider José Ignacio Cornejo finished fourth on the day, less than three minutes behind his fellow-countryman Quintanilla, who took the spoils. Cornejo now has the possibility of attacking tomorrow in the concluding stage in a bid to be among the prize-winners.

Ricky Brabec holds on to the lead that he has held since day three. The American managed well the advantage at the head of the general rankings, in spite of having dropped 12 minutes to the day’s eventual winner and now has everything in his favour in his bid for the outright Dakar Rally 2020 victory.

Joan Barreda opened the track after yesterday’s win and was followed by his Monster Energy Honda squad-mates, Brabec and Benavides. The handicap eventually led him to concede 14’48 to the stage winner. Barreda now lies in fifth place overall but is by no means out of the running for a final podium place in the race.

The final stage will be decided tomorrow between Haradh and Qiddiyah. A 374- kilometre special which will feature a 20-kilometre Qiddiya Trophy GP, obligatory for the riders who finish on the final podium of this edition of the Dakar, although the result will have no effect on the final standings of the rally.

This is… Stage 12
Link : 73 km – Special : 374 km – Total : 447 km
Composure will be a trusted ally on this final stage, where the positions at the top of the classification can still change. The last hundred kilometres will give the navigators just as many headaches as in the previous week. But the finish line is not far! A 20 km special section, with no impact on the general classification, will also select the winner of the “Qiddiya Trophy”, immediately before climbing onto the final podium.

Kevin Benavides #7 – STAGE: 9th OVERALL: 19th : « Today I started out in third position and attacked hard in the dunes that were very huge but beautiful. I have felt very comfortable and I reached Ricky and Joan. After refuelling we opened the track together. We have conceded some time but it was a good stage for me. Tomorrow is the final day so let’s go out there to enjoy ourselves. »

Ricky Brabec #9 – STAGE: 10th OVERALL: 1st : « There’s one stage left. The team is working well. I’m pretty excited. I can’t get my hopes up right now. Stage 11 here in the dunes was pretty tough. Starting up front due to the cancellation of the second part. So it was really hard to judge the time. Tomorrow there is one stage left and I’m in a good starting position. I’m confident to be focused and make it to the finish line. »

Joan Barreda #12 – STAGE: 12th OVERALL: 5th : « Today I expected less sand but there really was a lot. At the beginning of the stage I saw that it was soft with slow dunes so I figured that there would be quite big differences in the times. In spite of that, I pushed hard over the first kilometres and when I jumped a dune and took a very hard knock and I suffered quite a pain in the wrist for the rest of the special. A few kilometres before the refuelling, I was running low on fuel so I slowed down quite a bit, and lost some time. After the refuelling I upped the pace so as not to waste any more time. At the end of the day, I am happy. »

José Ignacio Cornejo #17 – STAGE: 4th OVERALL: 6th : « Today was the first day of real dunes. I was feeling pretty much at ease. It was very entertaining and I had a lot of fun. I’m in one piece and the bike too is in perfect shape. Tomorrow is the final day and we are fighting to improve our overall positions. I think that compared to last year I have improved a lot, I feel a much more complete rider. I still have to improve some things but I am very happy with my progress. »

Results Stage 11
1. Quintanilla Pablo (CHI) – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team, 04:09’22
2. Walkner Matthias (AUT) – KTM Factory Racing Team, +00’09
3. Benavides Luciano (ARG) – KTM Factory Racing Team, +02’48
4. Cornejo José Ignacio (CHI) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +02’53
5. Price Toby (AUS) – KTM Factory Racing Team, +05’49
6. Mccanney Jamie (GBR) – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team, +06’22
7. Caimi Franco (ARG) – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team, +07’05
8. Short Andrew (USA) – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, +08’11
9. Benavides Kevin (ARG) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +08’48
10. Brabec Ricky (USA) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +11’48…
12. Barreda Joan (SPA) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +14’48…

Rider Standings
Provisional Standings after Stage 11
1. Brabec Ricky (USA) – Monster Energy Honda Team, 38:33’28
2. Quintanilla Pablo (CHI) – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team, +13’56
3. Price Toby (AUS) – KTM Factory Racing Team, +22’34
4. Walkner Matthias (AUT) – KTM Factory Racing Team, +29’53
5. Barreda Joan (SPA) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +30’09
6. Cornejo José Ignacio (CHI) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +32’36
7. Benavides Luciano (ARG) – KTM Factory Racing Team, +35’18
8. Caimi Franco (ARG) – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team, +01:39’14
9. Howes Skyler (USA) – Klymciw Racing, +01:59’29
10. Short Andrew (USA) – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, +02:06’36…
19. Benavides Kevin (ARG) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +03:59’31…

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