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Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead

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Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead
Ricky Brabec is at home with the conditions and came to the fore on stage 3 with a win and thus moving into the overall lead. Photo: Rally Zone
Monster Energy Honda team hit top form on stage three of the 2020 Dakar Rally with Ricky Brabec leading home team-mates Jos̩ Ignacio Cornejo, Kevin Benavides with Brabec moving into the overall lead.

Marking the second half of the event‰Ûªs Super Marathon stage, day three at the 2020 Dakar Rally proved a tough one for all competitors. The 504-kilometre looped stage featured 427 kilometres of timed special that wound its way through the canyons and up into the mountains in the north of the country.

A GPS issue that affected all competitors and resulted in many of the front runners being unable to find a waypoint resulted in the event organisers taking the results from kilometre-389, rather than the final 427-kilometre mark as originally planned.


Stage 3 also saw the first of the big names withdraw with Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team‰Ûªs Adrien Van Beveren crashing out at 120 kilometres per hour just after the start resulting in a fractured collarbone and a trip to hospital for observation.

Previous stage overall leaders Sam Sunderland and Pablo Quintanilla had a tough day opening the stage and finishing 15th and 11th respectively but both still remain in the overall top ten.

Earlier this morning, riders once again received the ready-to-use roadbooks just minutes before the race-start, but this was no impediment to Ricky Brabec, as the American Monster Energy Honda Team rider let rip on the Honda CRF450 RALLY registering the best times at the various waypoints of the special before reaching the goal back in Neom. The Californian now leads in the general standings.

"Today was actually really fun. The train was really epic. There were a lot of rocks, lots of stones, a lot of sand, and a lot of tricky navigation. It was really fast, which is what I really prefer," Brabec said after the stage. "I had a good starting position today. I started a little bit back in twelfth position. I didn‰Ûªt have too much dust. I past the first rider at kilometre 20. I knew today I could push. It was difficult. Every note that I thought was difficult I slowed down and took my time. I was pushing all day. We had three short specials. I was riding really well and I felt really good today. The roadbook is really good. The information here is really, really nice here. Tomorrow will be tricky. It‰Ûªs always difficult opening because you have all the riders pushing behind you."
Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead
Jos̩ Ignacio Cornejo had his best stage finish so far finishing second fastest. Photo: Rally Zone
Jos̩ Ignacio Cornejo was also feeling at ease on this third stage of the rally in Saudi Arabia. Improving his skills as each day goes by, the Chilean made it home with the second best time of the day, less than six minutes behind Ricky Brabec.

"It went well today. It was a long stage, but an entertaining and complicated one," Cornejo reflected. "There were some very complicate areas for the navigation. It went well with a good pace, without making any mistakes but clocking up good partial times. In general, it was a very good day. I moved up a few positions in the overall standings. I felt really good and was comfortable with the bike. So I‰Ûªm very pleased with the performance."
Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead
Kevin Benavides climbed to second in the standings after finishing stage three in third position. Photo: Rally Zone
Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides climbs positions on the overall leader board to second place, just 4‰Ûª43 shy of his team-mate after a notable showing in the day‰Ûªs tricky special where he took third place on the podium.

"Today was a very nice stage, but a complicated one for the navigation," Benavides explained. "I started from fourth place. I caught up with the riders ahead and after I separated from the group and then I opened the way. I had a problem with one of the waypoints at kilometre 392. The roadbook was correct but the waypoint wasn‰Ûªt there. I arrived there before all the other riders so I lost more time. After that the other riders arrived and we rode together in a group. Nevertheless, I‰Ûªm very happy with the job done today. I felt very good on the bike. The navigation went really well. I will keep pushing ahead."
Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead
Matthias Walkner played the consistency game to come home in fourth place moving him up to third overall in the provisional standings. Photo: Rally Zone
Eighth to enter the day‰Ûªs stage, Matthias Walkner completed the majority of the special without issue. The experienced Austrian racer chose to focus on his road book and navigation rather than push too hard on the technical terrain and risk mistakes. The decision paid off for the 2018 Dakar champion who ultimately posted the fourth-quickest time of the day to move up to third overall in the provisional standings.

‰ÛÏI rode well today so I‰Ûªm happy about that and the bike is performing really well too, which is great," Walkner said. "Right from the start today, navigation was really tricky and you have to concentrate on the road book a lot. I came close to hitting some big rocks hidden in the sand today ‰ÛÒ it‰Ûªs difficult to find the right balance between maintaining good speed and the navigation. The missing waypoint caught everyone out so that caused some issues toward the end of the stage. All-in-all I feel good and I‰Ûªm looking forward to tomorrow.‰Û
Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead
Toby Price moves up to sixth in the general rankings after finishing fifth and will enjoy a strong start position for Wednesday‰Ûªs stage four. Photo: Rally Zone.
Also making the most of his experience when the going gets tough, Toby Price completed the shortened stage as fifth fastest, just seconds down on teammate Walkner. The stage one winner moves up to sixth in the general rankings and will enjoy a strong start position for Wednesday‰Ûªs stage four.

‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs been a tough day, but not too bad," the Australian reflected. "Things were going well in the morning ‰ÛÒ a few mistakes here and there but nothing too bad. I just tried to stay on two wheels, ride safe and bring it home. Obviously the issue towards the end threw us all a bit, but it‰Ûªs nice that the organisers acknowledged that quickly and rectified the results. The stage was really beautiful ‰ÛÒ lots of canyons and camels ‰ÛÒ I‰Ûªm feeling good and keen to get going again tomorrow.‰Û
Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead
Australian Rodney Faggotter had his best stage result finishing thirteenth and moved to fifteenth in the overall standings.
Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Xavier De Soultrait finished eighth Skyler Howes and Adrien Metge rounded out the top ten.

Australian Rodney Faggotter had his best stage result finishing thirteenth and moved to fifteenth in the overall standings.

"Had a good solid ride and feeling good. Bit of chaos late in the stage with a missing waypoint that wasn‰Ûªt set up in the motos GPS‰Ûªs ,but was in the Quads and cars." Rod said. "Fortunately common sense prevailed and they took the stage times up to that point. Was funny for a while and even had a chat and trail ride around in circles with my ol mate Toby Price. Was funny until we were still searching for that bastard waypoint 1/2 hour later! But all ended well."

Stage four of the 2020 Dakar Rally will present another long day in the saddle for riders. From Neom, a liaison travelling south along the coast of the Red Sea is then followed by a 453-kilometre timed special that will include a mixture of sandy pistes and faster, gravel tracks. After a total of 672 kilometres, competitors will reach the bivouac at Al-‰Û÷Ula.
For full results and standings - Click Here
Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead
Dakar Stage 3: Honda locks out podium with Brabec taking stage win and overall lead

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