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Honda one-two in the 2021 Dakar Rally: Kevin Benavides, champion, and Ricky Brabec, runner-up in the world’s toughest race

Monster Energy Honda Team has done it again at the 2021 Dakar Rally, snatching the overall win with a one-two finish for the team who dominated throughout. Kevin Benavides sees a dream come true as he becomes a Dakar champion. Ricky Brabec, runner-up overall, took the spoils on the final special stage.

Thirteen gruelling days came to a close today in Jeddah on the shores of the Red Sea, with Kevin Benavides emerging the winner of the 2021 Dakar Rally and team-mate Ricky Brabec taking second place overall. The American Monster Energy Honda Team rider won the final special of the rally in an intense 202-kilometre thriller.

Monster Energy Honda Team ruled the roost throughout the world’s toughest race for a second consecutive year, as the squad proved to have greater riders and superior mechanical firepower, winning 10 stages and leading nine of the thirteen days of racing. Kevin Benavides made history to become the first South American rider ever to hold aloft the winner’s heavy bronze Touareg. The Argentinean, whose consistency turned out to be the decisive factor, claimed two stage wins in the rally. Honda’s success was rounded out with runner-up spot going to American Ricky Brabec. The winner of last year’s edition finished with a final tally of four stage wins.

The last time Honda managed a one-two in the Dakar Rally was back in 1987 at the hands of Cyril Neveu and Edi Orioli.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 2nd

We are back in Jeddah. Kevin and I did a great job. The whole team did a great job. It was unfortunate for Joan and Nacho. I tried to make a push to try and get Kevin seven minutes ahead, but unfortunately I failed that. I had to settle for the number two spot. All in all it was a great rally. My mentor and my assistant Kendall, my mechanic Eric did a great job and kept Nacho and I focused and in one piece. Thank you guys once again, and hopefully next year we’ll be able to take the number one back on this bike.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 1st

The final stage of this Dakar 2021 was very difficult: I started third so I thought that it would be easier, but it was not like that. At kilometre 50 all the riders in front got lost, so I began to open the track. The stage has been very difficult to navigate so I stayed very focused on doing things well. I gave everything to achieve this win which is a dream come true for me. I am very happy and thrilled about it. I crossed the finish-line thinking about many things, with great emotions... Paulo Gonçalves also crossed with me... It was a great moment. I am really pleased and I’m living this moment. I want to thank the whole team, starting with my mechanics, for the great job they have all done this difficult year. Thanks also to Honda for giving us such a great bike which made it possible to achieve the dream.

Ruben Faria

General Manager

This Dakar has been very intense and hard-fought. We overcame the Covid restrictions and the entire team was able to participate in the race. During the entire Dakar, Monster Energy Honda Team has been really strong. We got off to a good start in the prologue, while the first two stages, with all the navigation and starting out from the front, was a bit more difficult. By the fourth stage we had begun to dominate the race and as we have seen, it was a clean race and very professional job from everyone involved. Kevin was really strong and Nacho was perhaps the strongest on the track, although he fell three days from the end. Ricky and Joan have won several stages, showing their potential, although Joan had to withdraw on the penultimate day of the race. The Dakar is like that, it is the toughest of races. We managed to finish first and second thanks to Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec. The team has done an excellent job and everybody should be congratulated and proud of themselves. Japan has made a great bike – really good – which has not caused any problems whatsoever. We will continue working like this to win again in 2022.


Overall victory for Honda and Kevin Benavides at the 2021 Dakar Rally

The final stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally delivered the outright race win to Monster Energy Honda Team. Kevin Benavides claimed the triumph after twelve gruelling stages. Ricky Brabec accompanied him on the podium in second place.

It was an intense, yet intriguing 202-kilometre special stage, which brought down the curtain on the Dakar Rally on the shores of the Red Sea. And it could not have been a happier one for the elated Monster Energy Honda Team riders: we have won the 2021 Rally Dakar!

Kevin Benavides has clinched the 2021 Dakar crown with team-mate Ricky Brabec finishing runner-up. This marks a first title for the Argentinean Monster Energy Honda Team rider and, once again, a historic result for Honda, who dominated throughout the 2021 Dakar. Over twelve tough days, Monster Energy Honda Team commanded the rally, accomplishing the final mission for a second successive year.

More lengthy coverage will follow shortly, including news reports with photographs of the winning moments, the final podium and comments from the team and riders, the final standings, plus the video of the day which will include footage from the podium.


Benavides and Brabec will fight for the overall Dakar 2021 victory tomorrow

The penultimate stage of the Dakar has once again produced some upsets. This morning, three riders set off from the Al-Ula bivouac eager to gain a place on the final podium. Brabec and Benavides remain in the battle for the overall win. Barreda has been forced to withdraw.

The longest special of the Dakar, as had been expected, caused some major shake-ups in the overall rankings. The originally planned 511-kilometre special stage was trimmed down to 464 kilometres due to route modifications. Recent rains had left the pistes in extremely poor condition causing race authorities to annul the most affected sections, citing safety reasons. There was, nevertheless, some complicated navigation to deal with on a route over all kinds of terrain: hard rock-filled tracks, dunes, sand and even a downpour of rain to welcome the riders upon arrival at the new Yanbu bivouac.

Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides still have their options wide open for the Dakar win. Today, the Monster Energy Honda Team riders completed a full stage which leaves them in an advantageous attacking position to be able to finish this Dakar on a high note. Ricky Brabec got the day’s stage off and running, opening the track and, in spite of some setbacks, managed to keep a steady pace, which eventually saw him posting an excellent sixth place, some 7’13” behind the Dakar leader Kevin Benavides.

Argentinean Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides defended his overall lead in the race well to claim third place on the day. Tomorrow, he will attempt to hunt down his rivals in a bid for top honours on the final day of the Dakar Rally.

Joan Barreda’s Dakar came to an end on this penultimate stage. The Spanish made a navigational blunder which meant he was unable to stop at the refuelling point. A few kilometres later the Spaniard ran out of gas and was forced to retire. The rider then underwent medical checks to determine his condition after a fall yesterday.

The Dakar wraps up tomorrow with a final stage scheduled to finish in Jeddah, where the rally both starts and finishes in this 2021 edition. There will be just 202 kilometres of timed special, concluding on the shores of the Red Sea, but also featuring over 200 kilometres of liaison section. The winner of the Dakar 2021 will be known at the end of the 452-kilometre special stage.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 6th OVERALL: 3rd

The stage was really long and we are very fortunate to have ridden really well yesterday and we were very unfortunate to open today. It was the longest stage of the whole rally. It was a tough one. I rode with my team-mates. I’m happy to be here. We opened for most of the day. We have finished stage eleven. We are happy to have made it this far. Tomorrow, we are going to do our best and will try and finish tomorrow in Jeddah. The results are crazy. We are going to do our best and stay focused. Tomorrow we are going to give it 100% and ride like never before. Anything is possible. It’s 270 km tomorrow. Kevin is 8’ in front in the general but starts just 6’ ahead. So to catch him and then put two minutes on top will be really tough. At this point I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do. Tomorrow we will put the helmet on and give it all we have. It’s do or die. We have to make three minutes on Sam. It’s nice to have someone else starting. We are going to push.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 3rd OVERALL: 1st

Today was a long and difficult stage. It really had everything: it was very technical for navigation, we had dunes, rivers, rocks, but the truth was that it was a very beautiful stage. I was determined to enjoy it and to try not to make mistakes with the navigation. It was a long day. I started third and I was able to catch my team-mates at kilometre 100, more or less. Then Joan made a mistake and ran out of fuel and, later, I passed Ricky and started to open the track for almost 200 kilometres. Later in the dunes I was able to ride together alongside Ricky and not lose too much time there. I think we have done some very good teamwork. I'm very happy with the day and now, more than ever, we have to be focused and give it everything tomorrow, the final day of racing.
Kevin Benavides

Joan Barreda 88

DNF DNF

The fall two days ago, where I lost consciousness for a few, really took its toll today. I really wanted to continue in the race and finish as best I could, but it wasn’t to be. I want to thank my team and all the fans for having always being there for me.


Kevin Benavides takes the command of the Dakar Rally with two days to go

The 2021 Dakar Rally is now entering into its final phase, with the battle hotting up as the rally heads towards its final showdown in Jeddah. Today saw mixed fortunes for the Monster Energy Honda Team who, in spite of a 1-2-3 finish at the end of the tenth stage, had to endure the withdrawal of Nacho Cornejo who had been in the battle for the overall Dakar win.

Riders set out this morning from the Neom bivouac for the tenth stage of Dakar 2021, heading southeast towards Al-Ula. They faced a total stage of 583 kilometres including 342 kilometres against the clock. The dunes are over, but the tough agenda nevertheless served up gravel and rock-filled tracks, with the route running through canyons and sandy sections, in equal measures. The difficulty level showed few signs of easing up.

It turned out to be a bittersweet finish for the team. On the one hand, the Monster Energy Honda Team was once again celebrating with a podium lock-out at the arrival in Al-Ula, with Ricky Brabec claiming a third 2021 Dakar, second place going to Barreda with Kevin Benavides in third. However, the team also saw José Ignacio Cornejo fall at kilometre 252, bringing significant consequences for the Chilean rider. After making it the finish-line of the special stage in bad shape and after medical advice, Nacho decided to retire from the race and undergo a thorough medical examination. Fortunately, after the complete examination at the Tabuk hospital, the rider has no after-effects from the crash. Cornejo won a stage win and had led the race for three days.

Victory on the day went to Ricky Brabec, who had headed out from second position this morning, opening the track for much of the day. The American was looking far more at ease on terrain well-suited to his style and reached the end of the special three minutes ahead of team-mate Joan Barreda. Brabec now lies second in the overall standings, 51” behind the leader.

Barreda, who started seventh, showed fine pace, making up some of the time he had dropped yesterday. The Spaniard finished second and is currently fourth in the rally.

Kevin Benavides has taken advantage of today. After starting out from the front this morning at Neom, the rider managed to set a swift pace before eventually posting third place. The aggregate moves him to the head of the overall rankings with two stages left to run.

Tomorrow, Thursday, sees the longest scheduled special of the 2021 Dakar. The stage will include some 511 kilometres against the clock and barely 50 kilometres of link stage. The new bivouac will be situated in Yanbu.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 2nd

Today definitely was a good day, but it was unfortunate for our team-mate Nacho Cornejo. We heard that he crashed, but finished the stage and they ended up taking him to the hospital. It’s unfortunate for him, but he’s OK and he made it to the finish-line. That’s always a plus. Today was fast with some traces from yesterday and some from last year. My team Kevin at kilometre 75 went off the roadbook a bit and got confused, so I took over from there opening the whole way until the end. I was thinking all day about a strategy, to try and sit back a little and set myself up for tomorrow, but the other guys were a little bit off the pace and too far behind. I didn’t want to sit back and wait for six minutes, so I decided to bite the bullet and push all day. Tomorrow I will open the stage. I’m very lucky to have my team-mate Joan and Kevin behind me. Unfortunately, if they catch me, I’m going to lose time tomorrow, but it is what it is. We’ve put in one hundred percent and have given it everything. Hopefully in the end everyone will be happy. Anything less than winning will be unacceptable. We’ll do our best and try and make it to the end on top. It would be great to get all the Hondas on the box, but if we get on top, that will be the ultimate. But the situation I’m in for stage eleven is not bad, but it’s not going to be easy. They’ve made it tough this year and the boys have made it tough too. I’ll try and do my best.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: DNF OVERALL: DNF

I’ve failed in my mission. Today I had a very heavy fall that left me unconscious for a few minutes, I was able to get back onto the bike, but very slowly and with the bike all bent up. I made the stage 10 finish-line, but for safety reasons I have to get such a heavy blow to the head checked out properly. I feel like I’ve been hit by a train. I have nothing left to do but thank my team, my family, my trainers and all the fans for their tremendous support and encouragement. We were so close to the big dream… it will remain unfinished business.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 3rd OVERALL: 1st

Today's stage was very complicated, I started opening the track and I was very focused until kilometre 80 where I made a navigation error and I dropped a couple of minutes until I found the WP. Ricky had just arrived there and he overtook me so I followed behind. There was a lot of dust and there were also a lot of rocks and dry rivers, so I stayed a little further back during the whole stage. I have heard the news about Nacho's withdrawal; it's a shame because he really did an incredible job day after day. I wish to send my best wishes to Nacho, and hope he gets well as soon as possible and I know that he will be back stronger than ever to continue the fight. For our part, we will continue giving everything as a team and personally I will fighting for what is also my dream. I am very aware that anything can happen so I will try to keep working as I have done until now. Tomorrow, we will have a very long stage, we’ll have to be smart and navigate well.

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 4th

Today was a good stage for me. The truth is that it was very important to get into the groove again after yesterday, where I had a fairly heavy fall and lost consciousness for a bit. Today it was important to make progress. The first kilometres were difficult as there was a lot of dust and it was difficult to overtake other riders. It went well and now there are two stages until the end. I'm a bit sad for Nacho, he had done a great job throughout the Dakar. Now, the most important thing is that he is fine, and can recover and that he can continue working like before. Tomorrow is going to be one of the longest stages so we will have to be very focused so as to not to make any mistakes. If we can do a good job over these two days and get the three Honda riders onto the podium, it would be incredible. But if it doesn't happen, we'll also be super satisfied with the great job we've done so far.


Monster Energy Honda Team leads as the Dakar Rally heads into the final stretch

The ninth stage of the Dakar turned out to be an extremely tough one. All the riders arrived at Neom exhausted after the 465-kilometre looping special stage on the shores of the Red Sea, which proved highly-demanding in terms of both riding and navigation. 1-2-3 for the Monster Energy Honda Team: the victory on the day went to Benavides, second place for Brabec while Cornejo, third, did a splendid job defending the overall lead.

The Neom loop rewarded the Monster Energy Honda Team with some excellent results. The 465-kilometre special was both physically and mentally demanding, with competitors battling over hard track, with plenty of rocky areas and even some sand, on a day in which sweltering temperatures – in excess of 30°c – tested riders to their absolute limits.

The battle for the final overall victory in this Dakar Rally looks set to be a long and arduous one. However, José Ignacio Cornejo took advantage today to consolidate his leadership in the overall rankings with a noteworthy result at the finish-line situated six kilometres from the Neom bivouac. The Monster Energy Honda Team rider kept a cool head and showed some deft navigational skills, opening the track throughout the day to reach the Neom finish-line among the front-runners. The Chilean now holds an 11’24” gap over his team-mate Benavides.

All Monster Energy Honda Team riders now occupies the top five positions in the 2021 Dakar with Kevin Benavides alongside team-mate Cornejo. The Argentine, second in the general standings, claimed the top honours on the special stage. Kevin dedicated the win to the memory of his ex-team-mate Paulo Gonçalves who was killed in the Saudi desert a year ago.

Meanwhile, Ricky Brabec, who showed good pace throughout the morning, stopped to help out Toby Price who had fallen on the track. Brabec got back into the special once the medical helicopter service reached the spot of the accident. At the end of the day, Brabec had the lost time deducted and was second of this stage.

Joan Barreda, likewise, arrived back at the Monster Energy Honda Team bivouac completely exhausted. A crash earlier in the race had hampered the Spaniard’s progress, however, Barreda was able to make it to the end of the stage and back to the camp, where he can now recuperate before starting out tomorrow morning from an advantageous position from further back.

The rally will now head south towards Jeddah, but will feature a couple of major stops on the way. The first of these will be at Al Ula. The 583-kilometre total stage will include 342 kilometres against the clock raced across sandy areas.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 4th

Today was definitely tough. We started third. We all had a long day today – there were 465 kilometres – that’s a long day for the navigation and it’s a long day in the desert. Unfortunately, Toby had gone down and I stopped for him for about 20 minutes. I was just waiting for the helicopter to get there. It’s a shame. He was definitely up there, fighting for the win. It happens. Every morning when we put our gear on, things like this can happen and we know it. It’s just the risk that we are willing to take. Unfortunately, the second week is going to be brutal. Last year we came here first, then we ended in the sand dunes. It was smooth. But this year we are starting in the dunes and finishing in the rocks and the rough, bumpy traces and river-beds. This week you don’t want to sleep too much. You want to stay focused. There’s three days left, but look what happened today with a few riders. Three days left and a lot can happen still. We are just going to try and stay focused and make it to the finish-line.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: 3rd OVERALL: 1st

Today was a really tough stage, with many rocks and it was very long. I started first and the idea was to open as fast as possible so that the riders wouldn’t be able to cut down the time. Toby Price who came out behind me and was battling with me in the general standings, unfortunately fell. This is news that we never want to hear, that one of the guys has been injured - hopefully it is nothing serious. As far as the stage went, I opened throughout the entire special, which was very long and mentally tough. I didn't drip a lot of time so I'm very happy with today's job. There is less and less distance until the end. Now it’s time to rest and focus on tomorrow's stage.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 2nd

We can say that today was a really hard special stage. Today, it is a year ago since the death of my friend Paulo Gonçalves. I aimed to do the best possible stage and this victory is dedicated to him. I'm happy with the job done, but I also have a mixed emotions as at the end of the stage I found out that my brother had fallen and got injured. I found out that he's fine, so that has calmed me down, but it's been a strange day nevertheless. There are three more days left and everything could change, so you have to be focused and give your all on a day-to-day basis.

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 7th OVERALL: 5th

Today was a very tough day and a very difficult, dangerous stage. I think I was doing quite well at the beginning but I fell in a hazardous area and took a blow to the leg. It is a strong hit, but I able or reach the end of the stage, which was important. Let’s see how the day goes tomorrow, as the Dakar is far from over: there are still three days left.




José Ignacio Cornejo confirms Dakar leadership with an excellent marathon stage

The Dakar 2021 marathon day ended on a high note for the Monster Energy Honda Team. The team posted fine results, led by a José Ignacio Cornejo, who not only clinched the stage but also consolidated his position at the head of the overall standings.

Today the stage got off to a very tough start from the Sakaka bivouac, where the riders had stayed yesterday without any help from their mechanics. All the Honda CRF450 RALLYs had arrived yesterday in healthy shape after an arduous stage and were all ready to line up again this morning for the eighth stage of the Dakar. The stage featured 375 kilometres of timed special on mainly hard gravel and sandy tracks with the cold temperatures giving way to the heat and strong winds blowing at the Neom bivouac.

Nacho Cornejo gave a master class in navigation. The Chilean Monster Energy Honda Team rider got off to a storming start and, after catching up with team-mate Ricky Brabec – yesterday’s winner – the pair headed west together to the end of the special, opening the track with a scorching pace. Cornejo claimed the spoils at the end of the special, further consolidating his position as overall race leader. In doing so, the rider from Iquique increases the advantage over the nearest second-placed rival to over a minute.

Behind, Kevin Benavides and Joan Barreda, who started out from further back, recorded some good times without overly-exerting their bikes. The result leaves them in positions to attack tomorrow in a new stage that should allow the duo to claw back several minutes from their rivals.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, sees the second scheduled looping stage of this edition of the Dakar. The 579-kilometre Neom-Neom stage will have one of the highest ratios of timed special stage with 465 kilometres against the clock. Setting off from the shores of the Red Sea, riders can look forward to another day of demanding navigation over sandy tracks.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 3rd OVERALL: 6th

Today was the second part of the marathon. We did good today. We did good yesterday. We opened the whole stage. Nacho caught me around refuelling at kilometre 229. The second part of the special was 115 km. Nacho and I rode together and just worked it out with good team work. We went really fast. Yesterday we did well, but I was scared that we would have to open. We rode well today. I’m kicking myself in the head. I wish we’d had the speed and the focus last week. We are fighting and we are stronger now. There’s four days left. It’s the same part of the desert that helped me last year. Hopefully somewhere we can pull out time. There’s four days and a lot of things will change. Everyone has used tyres. Tyre cuts are going to be a factor. Bike fatigue. Rider fatigue. Everything is going to start playing in. The finish is really close. It’s not that close in kilometres. There’s four days left. Let’s try and keep the focus and push.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 1st

Today I came second behind my partner and friend Ricky and it has tough to catch him up. He was opening very fast and I finally caught him and we opened the track at a very good pace. Congratulations to Ricky because he did very well. The idea was not to win, but it was very difficult to keep the other riders in check behind as they were very far from us. Now, I’ve got a bit of an advantage over the second-placed rider overall but the times are still very tight, so we have to continue with the same concentration. We will try to finish the job well, tomorrow we will try to open as cleanly as we can, and drop as little time as possible.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 5th OVERALL: 4th

In the second part of the marathon stage, I started from behind trying to look after the bike and finish well in these final stages. Yesterday, I had a very good stage, I was going to win but in the end I lost about 10 minutes which is why I came out pushing hard today. This stage was not to make much differences as it was a very fast stage. The truth is that I didn’t really enjoy these two marathon stages over very fast and broken-up terrain. Now, the important thing is that the bike is fine and tomorrow we have to continue more focused than ever to give it our best shot over the final four days.

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 6th OVERALL: 5th

The second part of the marathon stage was quite difficult. There were tracks with a lot of rocks and the truth is that it was dangerous. Yesterday, I took a strong blow to the front wheel and that is why today I decided to take care of things. At refuelling I realized that the gaps were small and I tried to keep a stable pace. I also saw Xavier De Soultrait fall and I lost my concentration there a little and I lost a bit of time over the next few kilometres. The result is not bad at all because tomorrow we start from further back, so we will try to make up some time.


Brabec and Cornejo claim another Monster Energy Honda Team one-two at stage seven. 

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.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 8th

Today I had a good day. I didn’t expect to win the stage but I’ll take it. I started catching Joan by refueling and he was like a 1 minute ahead. When I caught up, we opened the track together to the finish. I open the track tomorrow with my teammate Nacho who finished second today.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 1st

I’ve finished the marathon stage well. In the first part I had some problems in the sandy area that was more difficult as it was wet. From then on, I managed to find my rhythm. Before getting to the refuelling I had a problem with the tank, I lost some minutes, but I was able to sort it out. After, I went all out to try to make up for the minutes I’d dropped. I did not make any navigation errors and was able to recover. I’ve taken over the leadership in the general standings, so I am very happy. At the moment the strategy is going well, but there are many days left and the fight is very close. So we will continue to take it day by day, as we have been doing up until now.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 16th OVERALL: 5th

The stage today was really difficult for me. I didn’t feel comfortable on the bike today, maybe a little tired. I think rest day knocked me out of sync! But I kept a good pace until I had a navigation error at the end of the stage. I lost time but tomorrow I start back again so I will try to push to the front!

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 14th OVERALL: 6th

One of my tyres is a little bit damaged, but I don't think it's going to be a big problem. I have been checking it all day and so far it seems to have been holding up pretty well. I hope that tomorrow will be okay for the second part of the marathon stage.


Monster Energy Honda Team arrive at the rally halfway point with all riders in fine shape

The arrival of the rest day will come as a relief to the Dakar Rally participants. The sixth stage, which set off from Al Qaisumah bound for the Ha’il bivouac, confirmed Monster Energy Honda Team’s fine form. In addition to another victory for Joan Barreda; Brabec, Cornejo and Benavides are all well-positioned as the race heads into its final week.

The compass changed direction from northeast to west as the rally headed towards the mountainous areas of the country although not yet out of the dunes. The sixth stage, which had been reduced by 100 kilometres, once again served up plenty of dunes, some hard tracks and stony ground, but was, for the most part, played out in the sands. Last night at the competitors’ briefing a reduction to the 448-kilometre special stage between Al Qaisumah and Ha’il had been announced.

Once again, the “roller-coaster” effect that Ricky Brabec had referred to a few days ago, continued to cause radical shake-ups to the order, the yo-yoing having become a regular feature of the race. Today, Brabec himself rode a notable stage, finishing fourth on the day whilst bonding better with the conditions. The American is confident that he will be able to perform at his best over the remaining stages of the rally.

Joan Barreda, who started further back today, proved one of the main protagonists at most of the checkpoints on the sixth stage. The Spaniard from the Monster Energy Honda Team finished by setting the best time of the day once again, claiming a third stage win in this Dakar. The Spanish rider, with a tally of 27 wins, becomes the rider with the third highest number of stage victories in the rally’s history. Barreda is seventh in the overall standings.

It was a tough outing for both Kevin Benavides – yesterday’s winner – and Nacho Cornejo – second. The two Honda riders supported each other in a bid to out-pace the rivals, but couldn’t however avoid being hunted down by the chasing pack. Nevertheless, the duo produced a fine showing: the Chilean conceded less than seven minutes and rose the rankings to third place, while the Argentinean finished less than 10 minutes off the winner and continues to hold second place in the Dakar 2021 overall standings.

Tomorrow, the riders will be able to enjoy a lay-in on the rest day, before preparations begin for the second week of competition that will start on Sunday between Ha’il and Sakaka with 471 kilometres of special stage in what will be this 2021 Dakar Rally’s marathon stage.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 4th OVERALL: 13th

The stage was pretty good. Faster tracks. Faster than normal. It was a little bit better with navigation – a little bit easier. We made it to rest day, that was goal number one. Goal number two would be make it to the finish-line. I’m really happy to make it here, but I’m not ready for a day off. It’s mandatory so I’m going to take tomorrow off and take some rest, then attack six more days along the Red Sea. We didn’t really make up as much time today as we were thinking or hoping, but it is what it is at the moment. There’s still six days to go but it’s going to be really hard. The group is spread far apart so it’s really hard to manage. I don’t think that anyone has an idea how to manage this thing yet. Things are changing everyday, but we can only hope that things turn around. We can’t say much, but we have to just take it day by day.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: 11th OVERALL: 3rd

Today was a tough, long stage with only sand and dunes. My team-mate Kevin and I started out together and we tried to lose as little time as possible. We did a very good job opening the track for most of the stage. I am very happy with the outcome of the day. We’ve finished this first week very well-positioned in the general standings and looking very solid. Now we can take advantage of the rest day, to recharge the batteries and to think about the second week.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 17th OVERALL: 2nd

This stage six was tough for me. I started first and knew it would be tricky. My partner Nacho Cornejo and I did a very good job, from kilometre 70 onward, we pushed hard together on a 100% sandy stage. I have finished this first week very happy, with some very solid stages and second place overall. Now I will have to make the most of tomorrow to recover from all the blows from yesterday's crash. I’m happy to have been able to get here and I’m focused on the second part of the Dakar.

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 7º

I’m very happy with this victory, one more and the third this week. The truth is that I would never have imagined it, but the most important thing is that we are physically fit and the bike is perfect. We are looking forward to the second week. Let's see if we have a bit more luck with the strategy and we can keep up the pace and climb positions.


A third one-two for Honda riders. Benavides and Cornejo on the assault in the Dakar

With the opening third of the 2021 Dakar completed, Monster Energy Honda Team riders now aim to consolidate positions which will allow them to attack in the second half of the race. Today saw another one-two for the Honda CRF450 RALLY, with Benavides and Cornejo occupying the top two places at the end of the fifth stage.

The Dakar caravan moved on from the country’s capital towards north-eastern Saudi Arabia, bound for the new bivouac at Al Qaisumah – a camp not originally scheduled, but added just days prior to the start of the rally. After heading out from Riyadh this morning, riders rode a 72-kilometre link section which took them to the start of the 456-kilometre special stage. Later, came a 268-kilometre liaison section, before arriving at the bivouac situated in Al Oaisumah. The navigation once again proved demanding, particularly for the riders leading the peloton which opened the track, but also for the adversaries attacking from more favorable positions behind. The special stage played out over hard, and sometimes rocky, terrain. Later there were stretches of sand and the final kilometres of the special stage even featured a few dunes.

Kevin Benavides claimed the day’s victory spoils after a ferocious pedal-to-the-metal performance from start to finish. He gave everything, yet a fall was to prevent him from winning the 2021 Dakar fifth stage. Monster Energy Honda Team’s Argentinean rider thus moves to the head of the overall standings with a 2’31” advantage over the nearest second-placed rider. This marks a fourth Dakar stage win for Honda riders so far in this edition of the Dakar, with Benavides becoming the third rider from the winged brand to hold the overall lead after Brabec and Barreda.

José Ignacio Cornejo also collaborated in the Honda one-two today. The Chilean, who opened the track for much of the 456-kilometre special, with several of his closest rivals in hot pursuit, finished second on the day, precisely one minute behind his team-mate. Cornejo lies third place in the overall standings.

It was a complicated day for both Joan Barreda and Ricky Brabec. Although the pair started the morning 43 minutes apart, the duo of Monster Energy Honda Team riders dropped several minutes in some of the more navigationally taxing sections. In the end, the American finished 12 minutes behind Benavides with the Spaniard coming home 19 minutes adrift of the winner.

Tomorrow’s sixth stage will precede the rest day in Ha’il and will feature a special taking place 100% in the sand, with significant dunes that could cause some thrills and spills. Competitors can expect long day with 448 kilometres of special stage. Once back in Ha’il, riders will have completed a total day’s stage of 618 kilometres.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 12th OVERALL: 14th

Yesterday we had an idea to start at the rear. I don’t think that it was a very good idea. Today I lost the way and wasn’t trusting myself, I was second-guessing myself. I fell a little far back. It would have been really easy to follow tracks, but unfortunately we went into an area that was solid rock and I couldn’t really see the tracks, so it was really tough. I got to one spot and there were six guys sitting around lost and doing circles. From that point, I went on and opened up one way point, but couldn’t find the next one after that. I started second-guessing myself and doubting, and those guys were following me. It was just a big catastrophe out there. We lost a lot of time and I didn’t really know what to do. I was thinking, ‘This is it. I just ruined the Dakar’. I feel like maybe the dream has crashed, but there’s still a lot of racing to do. Hopefully, something will turn around and go in our favour. Now we don’t really know what will happen.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 3rd

This fifth stage was very long but also very tough. There was a bit of everything: rocks, trails and fast sections. At the start of the special there was a difficult area where many riders got lost, luckily, I was able to get passed it no problem which meant that I gained a lot of time. I caught up with the riders in front and I opened the track for 320km. I am very happy with the result. It was not what we had planned as a strategy, but I made the most of the opportunity. We hope to continue having solid stages and be in the fight for the top positions.
José Ignacio Cornejo

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 1st

Today has been a hard day for me. It was difficult because of the navigation and also because I suffered a hard fall on a dune. I hit my head hard against the GPS and my ankles also got twisted. It was very painful, but I did not give up and I kept going in the stage. It was not easy but I was finally able to win and I am very happy. Tomorrow, it will be my turn to open the track and I will have to defend myself to make any progress.

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 17th OVERALL: 9th

We predicted that today's stage would be complicated and it was. We started first and the opening kilometres were difficult: there was some navigation between the mountains and a lot of rocks and it was hard to find the route. In the more open parts we had a complication and had to go back and find the CP again. From that point I joined the other riders and we stayed quite close together. In the final part of the dunes things got quite hard: it became very physical. It was tough, but I think we did the best we could. We are adapting, but it is difficult to keep such a high pace with such confusing navigation.


Stage four provides Joan Barreda with a second victory in the 2021 Dakar

Once again, a Monster Energy Honda Team rider claimed the top spot on a very lengthy fourth day of the Dakar Rally. Joan Barreda clinched yet another stage victory and now lies in second overall. Kevin Benavides likewise turned out a fine showing and currently holds third in the general standings.

After heading out from the Wadi Ad-Dawasir bivouac, riders embarked on a 266-kilometre road link to the start of the 337-kilometre special, heading north towards the newly situated bivouac in Riyadh, before another 253-kilometre liaison took the day’s total to 856 kilometres. The special was, for the most part, over sandy track and hard terrain, while the few dunes on the route did not present any significant dangers. Navigation, once again, played a key role in the stage.

Joan Barreda took advantage of his 30th-position start to attempt to close the gap as much as possible on his rivals. The Spanish rider from Monster Energy Honda Team set a scorching pace to claim a second triumph in this Dakar, with the rider from Castellón taking his stage-winning tally to 26. Overall, Barreda holds second place, a mere 15 seconds behind the new leader De Soultrait.

Another fine mission from José Ignacio Cornejo in this 2021 Dakar. The level of motivation of the Chilean rider from Iquique grows by the day and the rider looked very much at ease on the track, recording the seventh best time of the day. Cornejo is now ninth in the general rankings, eight minutes adrift of the top.

If Barreda rode a fine stage, Kevin Benavides certainly did no less. The Argentinean rider, starting second on the day, rode like a bat out of hell, fending off valiantly the attacks from opponents to bring the Honda CRF450 RALLY home in fourteenth place, without dropping much precious time. Benavides concedes a position in the Dakar overall standings, where he currently lies in third, some 3’24 behind De Soultrait.

Ricky Brabec today played his hand in a bid to find some kind of consistency that might produce better results that on the previous stages. The reigning Dakar champion finished in the top twenty and occupies fifteenth position overall, just over sixteen minutes behind the race leader.

The fifth stage will take the riders into a new, tough stage tomorrow. Competitors head out from Riyadh bound for the new Al Qaisumah camp. There will be a 205-kilometre timed special, out of a total of 456 kilometres, over varied terrain including sand, dunes, but also over rocky ground that could potentially cause punctures.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 18th OVERALL: 15th

Today was one of the easier days with a lot of fast tracks. We started at the back so it was basically a free road for us. We don’t stand out in the results – that wasn’t the plan. We didn’t want to go out and win. Someone has got to put a stop to the yoyo effect that we’re having with KTM. I sacked up and I went slow today to try and get in with the rhythm of the main group. So far we are looking pretty good. We are starting tomorrow at the back with the KTM guys. Tomorrow, we’ll have a good push and hopefully get back to the front. Right now we are just 16 minute out of the lead. That’s nothing. It’s one day. Hopefully, tomorrow we can make up some time and go into the rest day in the top three. Today, I just wanted to sit back and get behind the curve. We are just flip-flopping and the results are changing every day. In order to manage the race, we’ve got to get behind and start fishing for them. We’ll attack tomorrow and see how things look on the rest day. It’s tough out there. We got turned around at one way point. But, in the end, if you look at the times, we are all really close. No stress. Just taking it easy today, to get behind everyone so that we can make up time tomorrow before the rest day.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: 7th OVERALL: 9th

Today was a very fast stage with difficult areas to navigate, but I didn’t made any serious mistakes on what proved to be a great day. I came out with one of the tyres that I had already used so it was not in very good condition. That’s why in the second part of the special I took it easier as the back wheel was slipping behind. But in general I felt good, I think we finished in a very good position ahead of tomorrow's stage. I’m gradually climbing up the general standings, trying to be consistent, but without having to open the track.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 14th OVERALL: 3rd

Today was a very good stage for me, I started in second position and I pushed hard. I was able to catch up with Toby and we rode together until the end. The result was good because we have reduced the time from previous days. It has been a very difficult Dakar so far in terms of navigation, but for now I am very happy with the job we’ve done. We are in the fourth day and we will continue fighting every day.

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 2nd

Today was a very fast stage, just as we were expecting, with less navigation than in previous days. I went all out and by the time I reached refuelling I saw that I had Ricky close behind and Quintanilla in front, so I kept pressing. I didn't really know what strategy to follow, but seeing as tomorrow will be a very difficult day because of the sand, we kept the pace high. The truth is that I am very happy and satisfied with another stage victory.


Positive stage for Kevin Benavides on the Wadi Ad-Dawasir loop

After a fine stage yesterday, with a one-two for Barreda and Brabec who claimed the top of the overall rally standings, today was the turn of Kevin Benavides. The Argentinean Monster Energy Honda Team rider finished the Dakar 2021 third stage in runner-up spot, just short of the leadership.

The Wadi Ad-Dawasir loop, over 630 total kilometres, including 403 km against the clock, once again turned the Dakar standings on their head. It has become normal to see the first riders to tackle the special drop time to their rivals due to the complicated task of navigating in a very demanding Dakar. Riders, starting further back, are able to re-trace the tracks and hunt down the front-runners, as they are able to focus on riding rather than the tough navigating. The third stage today served up dunes and desert navigation throughout, featuring some trial like areas on certain stretches of the route.

Joan Barreda and Ricky Brabec – first and second yesterday – had a rough day, opening the track with arduous navigation before reaching the dunes, which proved difficult with the strong winds blowing in from Wadi Ad-Dawasir. The pair tried to manage the distance from their pursuers, but it was a gruelling mission for the Monster Energy Honda Team duo who left behind easy-to-follow tracks. In the end, the Spaniard took thirtieth place with the American posting twenty-fifth. The result leaves the pair lying in fairly reasonable overall positions: Barreda is eighth and Brabec thirteenth, 11’15” behind the leader.

Second place at the end of the first looping stage went to Kevin Benavides. The rider, hailing from Salta, Argentina got off to a strong start this morning, hoping to clinch a partial victory, but eventually having to settle for the second best time of the day. The result places the rider second, just 33 seconds behind the rider who leads the provisional.

It turned out to be a good day for Chilean José Ignacio Cornejo, who showed no signs of hesitation whilst momentarily opening the track for several kilometres after catching up with the leading group. The Iquiqueño rider imposed a steady pace throughout to claim tenth final place, both in this third stage and in the general standings.

Tomorrow, stage four, will see the Dakar return to the Saudi Arabian capital, but unlike last year, it won’t be for the rest day, although competitors will definitely need it after completing over 800 kilometres of stage. The longest day of the event takes place between Wadi Ad-Dawasir and Riyadh with a 476-kilometre link section compared to just 337km against the clock. It is expected to be a day with less complex navigation on fast tracks where they riders will be able to really let rip with the Honda CRF450 RALLY.

Ricky Brabec 1 

STAGE: 25th OVERALL: 13th

You know the results are out of control. It’s like a rubber band effect. It’s flip-flop, either out or in. It’s really difficult – not really frustrating. We can’t figure out how to get back into the swing of it. We need to finish in the top ten and it’s really hard to find that rhythm and find that speed. We can’t seem to find how to finish around seventh position to sit there and watch everything unfold. The Hondas and Toby have opened every stage so far. It’s been pretty difficult so far, but we just need to find a new strategy. We’ll try and see if we can do something different tomorrow and try and finish in the top ten. The situation that Joan and I are in is tough. We are at the back and they are at the front. We’re at the opposite ends of the spectrum. We need to get the group together, but the navigation is slow in some areas and fast in others. The roadbook, the results, the standings have all been a roller-coaster. Everything so far has been up and down. We are 12 minutes off the lead. We can make it up in one day, especially starting from the back tomorrow. It’s only day three. We are going to do our best.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: 10th OVERALL: 10th

It was a stage with a bit of everything. Dune areas, trial areas with a lot of rocks and also some very fast parts. Today's goal was to try to catch up with those in front, I did it and I opened a good part of the stage too. I am happy with my pace and little by little I am progressing in the general standings. I feel very comfortable with the bike and I am very motivated to continue turning out solid stages and continuing to make progress in the general classification.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 2nd

Very happy to be in front again. Today I started from behind and I knew how to take advantage of this situation. I went out to do my best and I felt very comfortable with the bike and with the speed. Glad to have made up some time. Tomorrow it will be time to open the track, so I will have to try to do my best. This Dakar is turning out to be very different, with a lot of ups and downs, but for now I am very happy and eager to continue.

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 30th OVERALL: 8th

Today was a difficult day as we started from the front opening the track. During the first part it was difficult to find some gaps between all the rocks. Later in the area of soft dunes, there was a lot of wind and poor visibility and I also lost a bit of time. From then on, the other riders caught up with me, the group got bigger and we crossed the finish-line together.
Joan Barreda


25th stage win and leadership in the Dakar for Joan Barreda

Joan Barreda and Ricky Brabec scooped another one-two for Monster Energy Honda Team in the second stage of the Dakar Rally 2021. This marks a twenty-fifth stage victory for the Spaniard, who holds the place as the rider with the fourth highest number of wins in Dakar history. Barreda is the new overall leader of the 2021 Dakar.

The Dakar, once again, produced a day of many reshuffles in the order compared to yesterday’s stage. The riders who finished behind in yesterday’s stage were expected to pounce in an effort to claw back time, which is precisely what they did, on track conditions which proved very conducive to gaining lost time. Riders made a start from Bisha in cool temperatures before heading out onto the 135-kilometre liaison section which led to the starting point of the special stage. At the start of the 457-kilometre special, competitors faced low dunes and fast, open track, with the advantage always favouring the pursuers, proving to be a great handicap for the front-runners eager to fend them off. Later on, the stage hit level two and three type dunes, before ending on narrow stony areas and dried-out river beds. Finally – some 96 kilometres of link stage later – the riders found themselves back at the Wadi Al-Dawasir bivouac, which will be home-base for the coming two days.

Joan Barreda was the man to beat, claiming victory in the stage and clinching the overall race leadership. But these two feats weren’t the only thing Joan was celebrating. With today’s race, the Monster Energy Honda Team rider from Castellón takes his Dakar Rally stage victory tally to 25, the fourth best rider in the Dakar role of honour. Joan held a six-and-a-half minute margin over the day’s runner-up, team-mate Ricky Brabec.

The American got off to a strong start today – as did Joan – and was able to make up for the time dropped yesterday. Brabec accomplished his mission and now lies in second place overall, although he is well-aware that the Dakar has barely begun and a lot is in store before the great challenge finally draws to a conclusion.

Today’s starting position did not bode well for Kevin Benavides and it looked highly-likely that his adversaries would be able to chase him down and whittle away some of the gap from the Argentinean Monster Energy Honda Team rider. In the end, Kevin posted 24th, which will leave him starting tomorrow’s stage from further back with a chance to make up time. Kevin holds thirteenth in the general standings.

After some issues in the previous stages, today’s stage proved to be a good one for José Ignacio Cornejo. Despite a slight navigation error at the start of the special, the Chilean managed to set good pace on the kind of terrain that favours his riding style and was able to post a fifth-place finish, close to the leading riders. ‘Nacho’ now holds eleventh overall some twelve minutes adrift of the new leader.

Tomorrow sees the first looping stage of this Dakar 2021, held between Wadi Al-Dawasir – Wadi Al-Dawasir, with 403 kilometres against the clock, plus a 226 km liaison section, making up a total stage of 629 kilometres for the one hundred or so riders taking part.

Ricky Brabec 1 

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 2nd

Unfortunately we didn’t win, but I’m not sure if I want to win a stage for the rest of this Dakar. It bit us hard yesterday. It’s going to be a long Dakar. We are going to do our best each day to finish each and every day. We’re trying to make up time that we lost. We have ten days left. Right now we’re in a good spot. We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to keep the bike moving fast. Today was really fast. I feel the navigation wasn’t that tricky. It’s a different story when you are opening the stage. My team-mate Kevin found that out today. He’s a solid opener, but he had a couple of issues. He lost time as well as Toby. We are safe and healthy and ready for day three.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4 

STAGE: 5th OVERALL: 11th

Today was a good stage in terms of results, but it could have been better. At the start of the stage I made a serious mistake that made me lose several minutes. After this I felt very comfortable with the bike and was battling hard with a very quick pace, so I am happy about that. I feel that I have established myself on the bike and the terrain here, so let's see if from now on I can produce more solid stages. Hopefully I can always remain among the front runners, without having to open the track, but up there among them.

Kevin Benavides 47 

STAGE: 24th OVERALL: 13th

Today I started second and we knew we could drop time starting from the front. I caught up with Toby Price and opened the track for about 300 km so I'm happy with the job done in terms of navigation and speed. Even so, I lost time since following the Roadbook which was complicated and I had problems to find some WPs but that’s normal. Tomorrow I will have to start from behind, so I will have to take advantage of that. Overall I’m happy because it was a beautiful stage, very technical but fun.

Joan Barreda 88 

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 1st

It was a very good stage. We were forced to attack from the very first kilometre until the end and the truth is that it went well. But this is only the second stage of the Dakar and we know that tomorrow it will be difficult starting from the front once again. You have to stay calm, try not to make any mistakes and take it stage by stage.


Runner-up spot for Kevin Benavides in the first stage of the Dakar Rally

The Dakar Rally is off and running in Saudi Arabia after the first full stage ended at the new bivouac situated in Bisha. Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides finishes second on the day and now lies in second place overall in the general standings.

The 2021 Dakar Rally got off to a tough start with a 623-kilometre stage – including 277 kilometres against the clock – which turned out to be both highly-technical and navigationally complex. After setting off from Jeddah this morning, riders faced a long 311-kilometre liaison section on asphalt before reaching the start of the timed special, which, contrary to what had been announced in last night’s briefing, turned out to be a very slow one. Cumbersome, broken, stony and zigzagging pistes severely reduced the average speeds of the stage. Navigation proved tricky on a deceptive route that took in several dry river crossings. The special stage ended 35 kilometres away from the new bivouac located in Bisha.

Ricky Brabec and Joan Barreda were well aware that today would be a tough day. After claiming the top two positions in yesterday’s prologue, they faced the unenviable task of opening the track on this first ‘real’ day of the 2021 Dakar. Little did the American and the Spanish imagine that the predictions for the day would receive such a shake-up. Complicated navigation effectively put paid to any chances of finishing among the front-runners, as the pair conceded time to their rivals over the opening ten kilometres of the special.

Elsewhere, Kevin Benavides was taking full advantage. The Argentinean Monster Energy Honda Team rider kept up a relentless pace throughout the stage, catching the riders ahead and finishing by opening the track as the race headed for the Bisha finish-line. Second place in this first stage grants him the same position in the overall standings.

José Ignacio Cornejo conceded time after some minor navigational errors due to the complicated handling in the rocky areas where he was forced to proceed more cautiously. The Chilean, nevertheless, remains only twelve minutes adrift of his team-mate.

Tomorrow, the second stage of this Dakar will take the riders from Bisha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir. The stage will feature higher mileage than today, with more than 450 kilometres against the clock out of a total of some 700 kilometres on the day. The riders will hit the first sand dunes early in the day before moving on to open track and eventually finishing with stretches of sandy track.

Ricky Brabec 1

STAGE: 24th OVERALL: 24th

We won the prologue, but unfortunately, it hit us hard. We opened today and it wasn’t really as easy as we were expecting. The other guys started back and they dealt their cards a little bit better than we did. We didn’t really sit back in the prologue which led us up to the front. Stage one was difficult to navigate. It wasn’t fast. There were tons of rocks and slower speeds. I was trying to manage the rear tyre as we have to go more than one day on this tyre. I wasn’t sure of the speed and some of the other guys were on the gas a little bit harder. Hopefully in the end it’ll all pay off but, as of now, it’s only the first day and we have eleven left. Tomorrow we’ll start a bit further back with sand dunes and sand piste. Hopefully we can push up and make some time back.

José Ignacio Cornejo 4

STAGE: 16th OVERALL: 17th

Today the navigation was a bit complicated, there were many parallel tracks with many similar routes and directions. In some areas it was a bit difficult to find the WPs, so I wasted a little time there, especially in the rocky area, where I was not very comfortable and I made a couple of mistakes. We will make changes to the suspension to improve in this kind of area. We remain positive as there are 11 stages ahead and we have the chance to reduce the time and climb some positions.

Kevin Benavides 47

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 2nd

Today was quite a difficult day for the first stage of the Dakar. There was a lot of navigation with very complicated and technical areas and tracks filled with rocks. At the beginning of the special, it was difficult for me to find the right feeling with the bike and the reading of the Roadbook, but then I began to loosen up and feel more at ease. In the final 80 kilometres I managed to catch the guys in front and opened the track, so it was a good day and I am very happy about it. This has just started and this Dakar Rally is already really intense. We will have to make the most of every single day.

Joan Barreda 88

STAGE: 22th OVERALL: 18th

Today was a tough day. We started from the first positions and already, in the opening kilometres, there were discrepancies between the kilometres indicated by the radar and the GPS with those of the Roadbook. Ricky and I lost a lot of time there. It wasn’t easy throughout the day, but we hope that they will at least reinstate the time lost.

Ruben Faria General Manager

At the end of the first stage of the race, the four bikes have reached the bivouac. Only Cornejo had a slight fall in a rocky area but it turned out to be nothing. Being a light rider, the stage was not really to his liking, but he finished in a good position to be able to make up time tomorrow. Kevin, from a seventh position start, had the stage to his advantage, because today was a very complicated day for the navigation which could be seen in the average speed of the riders. We did not expect a day with such demanding navigation. Ricky and Joan finished first and second yesterday and today they had to open the track. Obviously, in 277 kilometres of off-piste and stone-filled river beds, they were going to lose time. But there are still eleven stages left and the Dakar is poised to be a very difficult one.

The bikes did not give any problems and the tyres stood up to the tough stage. Fortunately, we have riders in different positions, ready to battle for the race. The aim is to reach the rest stage with all four riders in with a chance of winning the Dakar.