Rallye

Dakar Stage 4: First Dakar stage win for Nacho Cornejo as Brabec maintains overall lead

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Monster Energy Honda Team's Nacho Cornejo claimed his first stage win. Photo: ASO
The Monster Energy Honda Team are forging a solid showing at the 2020 Dakar with Nacho Cornejo taking his maiden stage win ahead of Kevin Benavides and stage two winner Ross Branch while Ricky Brabec maintains the overall lead.

Following the shortened stage three, day four of the 2020 Dakar Rally saw riders leave Neom and head east to Al-‰Û÷Ula. Racing over fast, rock-strewn tracks, riders had to focus intently on their road books to avoid mistakes. With the most challenging terrain and navigation found during the last 50 kilometres, the stage was a true test of endurance for the competitors, who raced for close to four and a half hours.


Yesterday‰Ûªs stage winner, American rider and current race leader Ricky Brabec, was the first to start out this morning, but despite the handicap of having to open without references ahead, was able, nevertheless, to set an infernal pace. Behind him, Nacho Cornejo was likewise putting pedal to the metal, not only maintaining his team-mate‰Ûªs pace, but even managing to outstrip the Californian in the latter stretches. The Chilean, claimed his maiden special stage victory, after first place finisher Sam Sunderland was penalised for speeding. Cornejo holds third place overall.

"I‰Ûªm very happy with the stage victory. The truth is that I wasn‰Ûªt expecting it with Sam‰Ûªs penalization," Cornejo said. "I‰Ûªm really pleased to have achieved my first Dakar stage win. Today was a very long stage, very demanding physically and above all mentally. The first part was very fast where there was practically no time difference between the riders. From the first refuelling, difficult navigation areas began with poorly visible tracks and many tracks on either side. It was quite difficult until I have caught Ricky approximately at kilometre 220 and we helped each other to open the track until the second refuelling. It was a difficult stage where we went through some very beautiful places. I‰Ûªm very happy with this stage in which we kept a cool head to be able to find the route more easily."
Kevin Benavides continues to have a good run, finishing second on stage and now sitting second in the overall. Photo: ASO
Second on the stage was Kevin Benavides, another rider in the frenetic battle for the stage triumph, who finished 35 seconds adrift of the stage winner. The Argentinean lies second in the general rankings.

"Today was a very long day, very physically demanding and quite cold in the morning," Benavides said. "The stage began fast and, little by little, the technical areas began to arrive with rocks and hard track where navigation was very difficult. Then came a fairly fast part once again and before the end it was back to another part with a very complicated navigation full of sand and rocks. It was really very nice but a very demanding special. My team-mates did an excellent job opening the track. I followed them closely but I remained a little behind. I am very happy with the pace of today."
Following a big crash yesterday that destroyed his navigation tower and hurt his shoulder, stage two winner Ross Branch rebounded despite physically struggling to round out the top three. Photo: ASO
Following a big crash yesterday that destroyed his navigation tower and hurt his shoulder, stage two winner Ross Branch rebounded despite physically struggling to round out the top three and moves into 15th place in the overall standings.

"Really tough day for me on the bike today," Branch said. "I just tried to make the most of it and came out with a provisional 3rd which I was really surprised and happy about! Really can‰Ûªt thank the team enough for all their hard work last night!"
Brushing off the set back from yesterday, Paulo Goncalves regrouped overnight to finish 4th on stage. Photo: ASO
Brushing off the set back from yesterday, Paulo Goncalves regrouped overnight to start off with a positive intent. Having spent the entire day in the desert and arriving late in the night, Paulo was undeterred in his eagerness to take the stage early on, instead of riding at the back of the pack. Being a top 12 rider in the previous stage, he exercised his right to choose his starting position and opted to start the stage at the 26th position. A gritty performance saw him come in fourth on stage and saw him claw his way back several places from his overnight position of 110th to jump to 77th place in the overall rankings.

‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs good for motivation after yesterday and also for my team who had put in a lot of work to get the bike ready for today. My plan is to take the rally stage by stage and try to give my best possible every day.‰Û
Ricky Brabec finished fourth and still continues to command at the head of the overall race standings with a 2‰Ûª3‰Û
Ricky Brabec, concluded the stage in fourth with a three-minute deficit from the Chilean stage winner. The Californian, nevertheless, continues to command at the head of the overall race standings with a 2‰Ûª3‰Û
Australian Toby Price finished fifth and is still in a strong position in fourth overall. Photo: ASO
Putting in a consistent pace throughout the stage, Toby Price finished as sixth fastest, just less than three minutes behind the day‰Ûªs winner. Fourth overall going into stage five, Price will enjoy a strong start position tomorrow and aims to chase down the riders ahead.

‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs been a good solid day‰Ûªs riding for me, I made a few mistakes but nothing major," Price reflected. "I don‰Ûªt want to bash myself up or bend the bike so I‰Ûªve just tried to ride consistently and stay in touch with the other guys. We‰Ûªre still in contention and there‰Ûªs still a long way to go.‰Û
Privateer Australian Rodney Faggoter contines to impress finishing stage four in 18th place and sits 15th overall. Photo: ASO
Privateer Australian Rodney Faggoter contines to impress finishing stage four in 18th place and sits 15th overall.

"It was a brutal day and plenty potential to hurt yourself - so I just rode smooth as possible though most of the time the throttle was wedged non stop. Fast tracks, fast sand and a million rocks littered throughout to make it interesting." Rod said

Stage five of the 2020 Dakar Rally will take riders from Al-‰Û÷Ula to Ha‰Ûªil. The 564-kilometre route includes a timed special of 353 kilometres that will cover a mixture of dirt and rocks before opening out into the dunes for the latter half of the stage.

For full results and standings - Click Here
Photo: ASO

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