José Ignacio Cornejo took a second stage victory at this year’s event with a dominant performance into Al-Hofuf.
Having narrowly missed out on a maiden podium at the Dakar Rally in 2020, the 29 year old has his eyes on the top prize. The Chilean notched up his eighth Dakar stage victory, flying across stage four to propel him to the top of the overall standings now leading Ross Branch by over a minute.
After being separated from the team last night after just a two hour service followed by camping under the stars, the conditions didn’t deter the riders from finding their rhythm and putting in another assault on the general standings.
Making sure to rest up with an early night in his tent, a re-invigorated Ricky Brabec made it a one-two on the podium for the Monster Energy Honda Team as he accumulated a minute in bonuses on the shorter 299 km special stage. It was a great result for the American rider as he opened the way with Kevin Benavides on what promised to be a day with very tricky navigation.
Fifth placed Adrien Van Beveren has now got himself dialled in with his Honda CRF450 RALLY and with dunes coming up tomorrow in the hostile Empty Quarter, the three-time Le Touquet beach race king will be on the hunt for his first stage victory this year on his favourite terrain, aiming to rise up the overall standings from his current fifth position.
After his initial shaky start to the 2024 Dakar, Skyler Howes has made huge improvements to be in the top ten since stage two. The American has been enjoying the rocky stages so far although he did struggle to find a hidden waypoint today. His ninth position today has moved him up to twelfth overall.
Pablo Quintanilla had a stage to forget as 100 km in to the day’s action a parked up truck created some confusion on the route. What he thought was a navigational error was actually the correct way and this lost him over eighteen minutes to Cornejo. This has now dropped him down to seventh overall, so the six time Dakar stage winner will be one to keep an eye on in the coming days as he reclaims that deficit.
As the 48 Hour Chrono gets ever closer riders will have to muster up all their energy for stage five tomorrow. Although it’s only 118 km against the clock in the dunes, a very early start will see them covering a 527 km road section as they head towards the Red Sea and the city of Shubaytah.
Ruben Faria – General Manager : « We’ve got to the bivouac in Al-Hofuf at the end of stage four with Nacho and Ricky doing a really good job today coming first and second and Adrien is also on the pace and not too far off the front runners. Pablo lost a little bit of time today which is disappointing, but there are a lot of stages still to come so everything can change. Skyler did a good job at the beginning of the stage but he had some issues and also lost a bit of time. The team is strong and we will keep on fighting to achieve our main goal. »
Pablo Quintanilla #7 – Stage: 13th Overall: 7th : « Today was a super tough stage for me. We left a river bed and I saw some workers with a big truck parking up which didn’t seem right. I thought that I wasn’t going in the right direction and so I went back to search for the route. Toby (Price) arrived and he was in the same predicament. Finally we went back in the direction of the truck and the correct way was behind it. I got confused because of the workers and the truck so I didn’t think it was possible to go that way.
« It is what it is, we are still in the race so now we need to be focused again, get rest and go on the attack tomorrow. »
Ricky Brabec #9 – Stage: 2nd Overall: 3rd : « Stage four was good, it was the shortest one yet so I was happy to have a shorter day. We’re at the bivouac an hour earlier than we have been, so that’s also nice and it gives the mechanics some more time to work on the bikes. I was second on the road which definitely wasn’t easy as navigation is really tricky this year. It can catch you off guard quickly so if you’re not on your toes from sunrise to sunset then it really can throw you.
« Tomorrow’s stage five is a sand dune day, it’s a short one but it’ll be long day in the saddle with the liaison. It’s going to be an interesting next three days, everyone in the team is doing a great job and I’m looking forward to getting to the end of this rally. »
Skyler Howes #10 – Stage: 9th Overall: 12th : « I’m becoming more and more confident with the bike, we’ve made a few little changes to the suspension and to some other positive adjustments. I had a small mechanical issue which slowed me down and I also had to search for a hidden waypoint which lost me some time.
« The pace and riding was good and it was overall another positive day. I do prefer the previous stages as there’s more stones, rocky canyons and technical navigation, once you get into the dunes it’s almost like a motocross race, you push really hard and you just follow the compass. »
José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo #11 – Stage: 1st Overall: 1st : « It was a good stage, it was a mix of terrains and they did say it would be a little bit easier. It felt faster and not as physical as the previous days, but there were some sections of tricky navigation so I had to stay focused. I did some little mistakes at the beginning but then I pushed harder with a good solid pace and finished in a positive way. Tomorrow we start with the dunes so let’s see how it goes. »
Adrien Van Beveren #42 – Stage: 5th Overall: 5th : « We’ve had two good days, I feel really good on the bike and the rhythm is good now. I feel happy as I’m enjoying my riding, although today it was bit more stony so I enjoyed it a little bit less than yesterday. We had some dunes at the end which was fun and there are more to come tomorrow. The goal was to get back on the overall classification and I’m now fifth and not far off the front, so everything is possible to get back that time. »
RallyGP Results – Stage 3
1. Cornejo José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, 02H 51′ 11″
2. Brabec Ricky – USA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +02.59
3. Benavides Kevin – ARG – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +03.18
4. Evan Branch Ross – BWA – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +04.26
5. Van Beveren Adrien – FRA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +05.25
6. Benavides Luciano – ARG – Husqvarna Factory Racing, +07.22
7. Barreda Joan – SPA – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +08.15
8. Gonçalves Rui – POR – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +09.51
9. Howes Skyler – USA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +10.05
10. Michek Martin – CZE – Orion Moto Racing Group, +14.10…
13. Quintanilla Pablo – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, +18.39…
RallyGP Provisional Standings after Stage 4
1. Cornejo José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, 17H 27′ 13″
2. Evan Branch Ross – BWA – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +01.15
3. Brabec Ricky – USA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +04.56
4. Benavides Kevin – ARG – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +20.39
5. Van Beveren Adrien – FRA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +22.30
6. Benavides Luciano – ARG – Husqvarna Factory Racing, +31.11
7. Quintanilla Pablo – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, +31.44
8. Price Toby – AUS – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +34.54
9. Michek Martin – CZE – Orion Moto Racing Group, +38.11
10. Sanders Daniel – AUS – Gas Gas Factory Team, +39.43…