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One-two for Monster Energy Honda in 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge second stage

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One-two for Monster Energy Honda in 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge second stage
Monster Energy Honda's Jos̩ Ignacio Cornejo set off at a swift pace to claim the second stage win. Photo: RallyZone - Edoardo Bauer
The Monster Energy Honda Team riders turned out a fine performance in the dunes of Liwa for the second stage of the 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge taking the top two spots.

Jos̩ Ignacio Cornejo and Joan Barreda finished first and second on the day, while the fastly improving American Andrew Short crossed the line third.

The heat and wind were once again the key climatic elements of stage two. The 222 kilometres of special timed stage proved to be a physical test for the riders once more. Yet in spite of the soft dunes and scorching temperatures on the course, riders finished the day reporting back good sensations.
One-two for Monster Energy Honda in 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge second stage
Jose Ignacio Cornejo prepares for the day in the dunes. Photo: RallyZone - Edoardo Bauer
JosÌ© Ignacio Cornejo set off at a swift pace, catching the two riders ahead before finishing amongst the front-runners at the end of the special. The Chilean rider pulled off an important stage victory, his second in the World Championship. ‰Û÷Nacho‰Ûª now lies in second in the general standings, less than a minute behind the leader Sam Sunderland.

"Today I improved the pace with the bike in the dunes, I went a lot faster and I pulled back a bit of time before the refuelling," Cornejo explained. "In the second part I was pushing harder and I was able to catch up with the front-runners. Furthermore, I won the stage, so I am very happy, and the intention from now on is to continue along the same track and try to hold onto the second position in the general standings."
One-two for Monster Energy Honda in 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge second stage
Joan Barreda made it a Honda 1-2 with second place. Photo: RallyZone - Edoardo Bauer
Joan Barreda was today able to resume the race after yesterday‰Ûªs mechanical hitch. The Spanish rider was surprised to arrive at refuelling with the best provisional time. He would have been the best on the day too had it not been for a fall in the second part of the special which saw him drop precious seconds. He did, however, finish the stage in second place behind his team-mate.

"I was feeling pretty good. It was an important, yet tough day for me," Barreda shared. "In the earlier part I didn‰Ûªt feel so confident, but things improved and I was able to reach a good race pace. Pity about the final part, where I got stuck in a dune and my ribs were hurting. I decided to slow down a bit to make it safely to the finish-line. Anyway, I am pleased with how I led the day in spite of the difficulties."
One-two for Monster Energy Honda in 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge second stage
With only one set of tracks ahead of him in the sand, Short had to rely on his ever-increasing rally experience to navigate through the featureless Liwa desert. Photo: RallyZone - Edoardo Bauer
Andrew Short continues to impress posting the third fastest time on a tricky stage. As the second rider to head into the timed special, the American rider immediately set about chasing down the leader.

With only one set of tracks ahead of him in the sand, Short had to rely on his ever-increasing rally experience to navigate through the featureless Liwa desert. Ultimately catching the leading competitor 20 kilometres before the stage finish posting a stage time less than three minutes down on the day two winner. Despite incurring a one-minute speed penalty ‰ÛÒ his first ever in rally competition ‰ÛÒ Short still lies third in the provisional overall standings.

‰ÛÏToday‰Ûªs stage was very similar to yesterday, but I was riding by myself for the majority of the day," Short said. "I was able to use the tracks in the sand to my advantage and managed to keep to a good pace. It was a bit tough out there battling against the wind once again but I‰Ûªm happy with how I rode. It seems I got my first speed penalty today since I started rally, which isn‰Ûªt good. Hopefully as the days continue, I can push the tracks and gain more positions.‰Û
One-two for Monster Energy Honda in 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge second stage
Luciano Benavides impressed once again finishing stage two fourth fastest. Photo: RallyZone - Edoardo Bauer
Luciano Benavides matched his fourth-place finish from the opening day, the 23-year-old successfully navigated his own way through the expansive dunes. Ultimately, he posted a stage time of three-hours-and-16-minutes, less than four minutes from the stage winner.

‰ÛÏIt was a good day for me today," Benavides enthused. "I rode alone for the whole stage so I was able to learn a lot about this desert and how to read the dunes. I was able to maintain a good rhythm and I‰Ûªm not too far away from the top guys so I‰Ûªm happy with that. My pace is getting better and that‰Ûªs very encouraging for the days ahead. My plan is to continue like this without any mistakes and arrive healthy at the end.‰Û
One-two for Monster Energy Honda in 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge second stage
Stage one winner Sam Sunderland finished 5th on stage two after leading the field away, he still holds the overall lead. Photo: RallyZone - Edoardo Bauer
Following on from his day one win, Sam Sunderland was the first to enter today‰Ûªs stage. Navigating through the looped timed special that took riders around the Liwa oasis area, Sunderland led the majority of the route, only to be caught close to the finish. Despite the conditions being less than perfect, the 2017 Abu Dhabi winner showed excellent pace, posting the fifth fastest time for the day.

‰ÛÏStarting first on the route is always going to be a disadvantage obviously, but I‰Ûªm pleased with how I rode and believe I did a good job of opening the stage," Sunderland said. "I set a good pace all day and only got caught by Andrew at around kilometre 200, which is really good for leading out here in Abu Dhabi as it‰Ûªs always quite tricky to navigate and easy to lose time when riding at the front. I am very pleased with how everything is going at the moment ‰ÛÒ the bike is perfect and the team are doing great. Hopefully the wind eases off a little as it makes everyone‰Ûªs job a little harder, but it‰Ûªs the desert and it can be expected. Looking forward to getting going again tomorrow.‰Û

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