2021 Dakar Rally, Stage 10

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There are only two stages left in the 2021 Dakar Rally, and that’s probably a good thing. The riders are taking a beating.

Today, Honda’s up-and-coming star José Ignacio Cornejo (often known as “Nacho”) crashed hard at the 252-kilometre mark during the special. He got back on the mangled bike and managed to finish, but he was in rough shape. After medical staff examined him, he had to withdraw from the race.

That’s a heartbreaker, as Cornejo was leading the race and had moved beyond his previous secondary role with the team. Over the past couple of days, he’d been both leading the navigation on-course and leading the timing as well, a very difficult feat, especially with the difficult nav in this year’s race (some riders struggled at finding WP1 this morning, looking for 40 minutes!). He’s proving to be not just an elite rider, but maybe even worthy of the much-lauded “alien” status. Hopefully he recovers OK and is able to show more of that skill next year.

The daily beatings are catching up to other riders as well, with rookie Daniel Sanders (KTM) reportedly taking a hammering over the past few days. As for Toby Price, he tweeted a photo from hospital this morning, saying he’d finally broken his 30th bone.

Some bikes are starting to pile up damage as well. Note that Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren took a 15-minute penalty yesterday, almost certainly for some mechanical work. It’s hard to blame him, though, as Yamaha’s four other factory riders have all been taken out with bike trouble. Van Beveren has had terrible luck the past few years, and no doubt he’s just hoping to finish without destroying his bike or any more bones.

As for the day’s racing, Honda’s Ricky Brabec won, with teammates Joan Barreda and Kevin Benavides in second and third. Brabec has gone a long way towards erasing his massive nav error on Stage 2. Together, they’ve certainly put Honda in a good spot. Three of the top four riders are riding with Big Red, so even if there’s a disastrous mechanical, it seems a couple of them should be able to secure a podium. Fourth-place Skyler Howes is a long way back, and also has a big six-minute penalty.

 

However, if one or two of the top four riders exit the race tomorrow, we’re really going to get into clown country, as the next crop of riders are all from second-tier teams, or rookies. If Howes ends up third, or KTM’s Daniel Sanders, or Sherco’s Lorenzo Santolino, we’ll have had a very different race for 2021.

Dakar, Stage 10 rankings

  1. Ricky Brabec, Honda, 03H 12′ 33”
  2. Joan Barreda, Honda, 03H 15′ 48” (+ 00H 03′ 15”)
  3. Kevin Benavides, Honda, 03H 17′ 44” (+ 00H 05′ 11”)
  4. Skyler Howes, Bas Dakar, 03H 18′ 21” (+ 00H 05′ 48”)
  5. Matthias Walkner, KTM, 03H 18′ 29” (+ 00H 05′ 56”)
  6. Daniel Sanders, KTM, 03H 21′ 40” (+ 00H 09′ 07”)
  7. Adrien Van Beveren, Yamaha, 03H 23′ 42” (+ 00H 11′ 09”)
  8. Sam Sunderland, KTM, 03H 25′ 10” (+ 00H 12′ 37”)
  9. Lorenzo Santolino, Sherco, 03H 27′ 41” (+ 00H 15′ 08”) 
  10. Joaquim Rodrigues, 03H 28′ 57” (+ 00H 16′ 24”)

Dakar, overall rankings

  1. Kevin Benavides, Honda, 40H 20′ 08” (00H 02′ 00” penalty)
  2. Ricky Brabec, Honda, 40H 20′ 59” (+ 00H 00′ 51”)
  3. Sam Sunderland, KTM, 40H 30′ 44” (+ 00H 10′ 36”)
  4. Joan Barreda, Honda, 40H 35′ 48” (+ 00H 15′ 40”) 
  5. Skyler Howes, Bas Dakar, 40H 49′ 46” (+ 00H 29′ 38”) (00H 06′ 00” penalty)
  6. Daniel Sanders, KTM, 40H 51′ 03” (+ 00H 30′ 55”) (00H 07′ 00” penalty)
  7. Lorenzo Santolino, Sherco, 41H 00′ 49” (+ 00H 40′ 41”) 
  8. Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, 41H 24′ 10” (+ 01H 04′ 02”) 
  9. Adrien Van Beveren, Yamaha, 41H 32′ 30” (+ 01H 12′ 22”) (00H 15′ 00” penalty)
  10. Stefan Svitko, Slovnaft, 41H 36′ 27” (+ 01H 16′ 19”)

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