On the fourth day of Dakar 2024 the Monster Energy Honda Team riders made their mark on the first part of a marathon stage as they ventured from Al Duwadimi to Al Salamiya.
Making the trek into the heart of Saudi Arabia they’d cover a variety of terrain including soft dunes and stony tracks which required a high level of navigation to make sure they got to the finish unscathed.
Second place finisher Ricky Brabec put in a fantastic ride to end the day just over a minute behind stage winner Kevin Benavides. He kept his third place in the overall standings and more importantly took time out of overall leader Ross Branch.
Adrien Van Beveren was disappointed with his result yesterday after a couple of navigational issues, but today saw him up amongst the front runners on a much happier day for the Frenchman as he mastered the conditions for third. Skyler Howes also spent most of the day in the fight and despite stopping to assist Hero Motosports Team Rally’s Sebastian Bühler after his crash, time spent at Bühler’s side was given back to the American. A hugely positive fourth place was his result just six seconds behind Van Beveren.
After his stage victory yesterday, José Nacho Cornejo was faced with the difficult task of being first off the line to cover the 438 km test. Pairing up with Quintanilla early on saw them both take advantage of the bonuses on offer for leading the way, on a stage which really put them through their paces mentally as Cornejo took sixth, with his fellow countryman just one place behind.
At the end of today’s stage mechanics had just two hours to work on the bikes before parting ways with their riders who will spend the night camping and with their bikes in Parc Fermé with nobody able to touch them.
They will set out tomorrow on another long day of riding as the exploration of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia continues at pace heading to the city of Al-Hofuf which is situated in the Al-Ahsa Oasis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 299 km stage and 332 km liaison will be served up on the second half of this marathon stage before riders reunite with their teams.
Ruben Faria – General Manager : « It was a good day for the Monster Energy Honda Team as our riders recovered some time which is a positive as we’re still in the fight. Tomorrow is stage four which I don’t think will be too difficult but it is the Dakar and anything can happen. When we think it’s an easy stage sometimes we have run into problems, so fingers crossed we’ll have another good day. »
Pablo Quintanilla #7 – Stage: 7th Overall: 4th : « I’m happy to get through this stage especially when it was so hard and complicated.
« I managed to catch up with Nacho at the refuelling and from there we rode together until the end of the stage. That was amazing because there were notes in the road book that were very close together and we helped each other. »
Ricky Brabec #9 – Stage: 2nd Overall: 3rd : « I recovered some time today and rode the best I could. It was a long day and I had a couple of hiccups early on but here we are at the end of day three so I’m happy to be able to start stage four. There’s a long way to go but we will keep fighting. »
Skyler Howes #10 – Stage: 4th Overall: 12th : « It was another really fast and tricky day, for navigation as well. We did get into some nice dunes which was a good change of pace but there were a lot more rocks today which I’m having a lot of fun in.
« At the beginning of the special I caught up to Toby (Price) and rode with him pretty much the whole day, so he took the lead through the dunes and I led through the rocks. It was a super fun day, not without mistakes again, so I know I can improve a little bit more. »
José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo #11 – Stage: 6th Overall: 2nd : « I had to open the way on a very tricky stage with a mix of terrain and difficult navigation so Pablo caught me and then we rode together. I think we did a pretty good job as it wasn’t easy and it was a lot of time to be focused, so it was a bit exhausting mentally. Today the goal was to ride a bit safer because the mechanics only have two hours to work on the bike so we didn’t want to give them any extra work to do. »
Adrien Van Beveren #42 – Stage: 3rd Overall: 5th : « Today was a better stage for me, it was a really tricky one and there was a lot of navigation. Some parts were fast, some slow, but I’m happy with my day. This stage will have been hard for a lot of riders but we need to stay focused as we’re only on day three, yet it feels like it’s been six! »
RallyGP Results – Stage 3
1. Benavides Kevin – ARG – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, 04H 39′ 28″
2. Brabec Ricky – USA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +01.11
3. Van Beveren Adrien – FRA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +02.51
4. Howes Skyler – USA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +02.57
5. Evan Branch Ross – BWA – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +03.18
6. Cornejo José Ignacio ‘Nacho’- CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, +03.34
7. Quintanilla Pablo – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, +04.14
8. Svitko Stefan – SLO – Slovnaft Rally Team, +05.04
9. Price Toby – AUS – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +06.36
10. Michek Martin – CZE – Orion Moto Racing Group, +07.32…
RallyGP Provisional Standings after Stage 3
1. Evan Branch Ross – BWA – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, 14H 32′ 51″
2. Cornejo José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, +03.11
3. Brabec Ricky – USA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +05.08
4. Quintanilla Pablo – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, +16.16
5. Van Beveren Adrien – FRA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +20.16
6. Benavides Kevin – ARG – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +20.32
7. Price Toby – AUS – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +22.57
8. Sanders Daniel – AUS – Gas Gas Factory Team, +24.13
9. Benavides Luciano – ARG – Husqvarna Factory Racing, +27.00
10. Michek Martin – CZE – Orion Moto Racing Group, +27.12…
12. Howes Skyler – USA- Monster Energy Honda Team, +41.45…