Rallye

2021 Dakar Stage 10: Brabec takes lead Cornejo withdraws after crashing

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Defending champion Ricky Brabec has closed within 13 seconds of the overall lead with the stage ten win.
Defending champion Ricky Brabec has moved into second overall at the 2021 Dakar Rally thanks to his third stage win as overnight leader Nacho Cornejo crashed out on the gruelling 10th stage.

It was another Honda 1-2-3 with Joan Barreda and Kevin Benavides following the American home. Kevin Benavides moves into the number one spot in the rankings with a 13 second advantage over Brabec,

A rattled Nacho Cornejo underwent a medical examination after soldiering on to the finish following his crash at km 252. The Chilean, who started today's stage in the overall lead, has been left with no choice but to withdraw from the rally.

Australian Daniel Sanders once again finished inside the top ten with sixth place.


Totaling 583km, day 10 of the rally took competitors south from Neom towards AlUla. An 83km liaison led the riders to the start of the 342km special stage where they then faced similar terrain to Tuesday‰Ûªs tough stage nine, with a mixture of sandy tracks and rocky pistes twisting through canyons and valleys. Although one of the shortest at this year‰Ûªs race, the day‰Ûªs special still proved incredibly taxing for all, with its high temperatures and complicated navigation.

Ricky Brabec took the reins at km 126 and never looked back despite having to open the way after overtaking Nacho Cornejo. It's his third win of the year (including the prologue) and his sixth overall and now moves him within striking distance of defending his 2020 title!

"I'm sure Nacho has a lot of pressure. Leading the Dakar is not easy. I don't think there's a lot of pressure from the team, but for a personal goal I think he has a lot of pressure," Brabec said. "He's a young kid, he's been riding well all week, he's been surprising everybody. He's the best navigator at this rally. We all know we all wanna win. Winning is the best thing there is in life. There's no real team orders."
Joan Barreda had a difficult day with dust but still managed second on stage. Photo: Rally Zone.
Joan Barreda, who started seventh, showed fine pace, making up some of the time he had dropped yesterday. The Spaniard finished second, +3:15 behind Brabec, and is currently fourth in the rally.

"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," Barreda said. "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."
Kevin Benavides now leads the rally by 13 seconds. Photo: Rally Zone
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.

"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," Benavides explained. ""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‰Ûªll have to be smart and navigate well."
American privateer Skyler Howe continues to impress with 4th today and is now 5th overall.
American privateer Skyler Howes was once again up the pointy end finishing in a solid 4th place which sees the American 5th overall.

"A fun day ripping through the desert. A lot of rocks and tough navigation again today," Howes said. "I Learned my lesson yesterday and stayed on top of the roadbook and had a much better time. Caught up to a couple of guys and had a solid group ride for most of the stage. The dust was killer but got some fresh air for the last bit and brought her on in. Got a long day in the saddle tomorrow with one of the longest stages with dunes."
Matthias Walkner moved himself up to 14th with 5th on stage 10. Photo: Rally Zone
In placing fifth on today‰Ûªs stage, Matthias Walkner moves himself up to 14th in the provisional overall standings ‰ÛÒ an impressive achievement considering the Austrian rider‰Ûªs troubles early in the race. Despite his deficit to the rally leaders, Matthias continues to push on each and every stage, delivering strong performances, and hopes to finish the final two stages of the event on a high.
Aussie rookie Daniel Sanders is staying out of trouble and is firmly inside the top ten.
Day 10 at the Dakar was a valuable learning experience for Daniel Sanders. A couple of navigation issues early on resulted in the young Australian being caught by a number of his rivals. Forced to complete the stage behind them, the Victorian settled for a safe finish, conserving himself for tomorrow‰Ûªs gruelling special. Claiming another top-10 stage result in sixth, Sanders lies seventh in the overall standings and as top rookie class contender, by well over two and a half hours.

‰ÛÏIt was rough going out there today," Sanders said. "Not the best stage for me, I got lost a couple of times early on and that cost me some minutes. Towards the end there, Skyler came past me and I was in his dust then and decided to settle for a safe finish. I managed to conserve a bit of energy over those last 100 kilometers as we have got a really long day tomorrow and it‰Ûªs going to be a tough one.‰Û
Adrien Van Beveren claimed a solid seventh place finish continuing his strong run of form during the second week
Adrien Van Beveren claimed a solid seventh place finish continuing his strong run of form during the second week of the event. Enjoying the physical nature of today‰Ûªs rocky stage to secure a second consecutive top 10 result, the Frenchman advances one position to ninth in the overall provisional classification.
Sam Sunderland was escorted to eight. Photo: Rally Zone
Making a couple of navigation errors on stage nine, Sam Sunderland was able to use his experience to quickly get back on track and subsequently reach the finish line as eighth fastest. Currently fourth in the provisional overall classification, Sunderland will enjoy a strong start position for Thursday‰Ûªs stage 11.

‰ÛÏIt was a tough stage for me today, I felt good out there but made a couple of mistakes and lost quite a bit of time. The road book is so complicated this year and it‰Ûªs not so easy to stick to the right track," Sunderland said.

Aussie Michael Burgess keeps improving and today logged another best finish with 26th which has pushed the Bas Dakar KTM Racing Team rider into the top 30 with a ranking of 29th overall.

At 511km, the timed section on stage 11 is the longest of the rally. Leading from AlUla to Yanbu, the route will cover a variety of terrain, with a section of dunes mid-stage lasting for close to 100km. Accurate navigation through this area will prove vital in earning a good stage time.

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