January 25, 2021

Dakar 2021: Cornejo extends his lead over Toby Price

Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo during the 8th stage of the Dakar 2021. (Photo credit: A.S.O./F.Gooden/DPPI)

Toby Price just proved to the world that you can fix anything with gaffer tape and zip ties.

The Aussie legend did some serious damage to his rear tyre in Stage 7 and after taping and tying it, hoped it would hold together and get him through today’s special. Well it did.

Price finished the stage second behind Nacho Cornejo.

It’s Cornejo’s first stage win this year and with that he extends his lead in the rally over Price to 1 minute and 6 seconds.

Ricky Brabec’s third place today has helped him in his desperate attempt to get back in touch with the leaders. He moves up 2 spots to 6th overall.

Xavier De Soultrait, who has consistently been in the top five most of the rally, has been airlifted to the hospital in Tabuk for x-rays after a nasty crash 267km into the special. Reports are that he did not lose consciousness in the crash but the medical team determined his injuries needed immediate medical care.

De Soultrait had also done a makeshift repair on his front tyre with zip ties, hopefully that wasn’t what brought him down.

Also out of the rally today is Monster Energy Yamaha rider Franco Caimi after his engine failed 280km into the special.

It’s been a tough couple of days for the Yamaha factory team.

Ross Branch, who was running so strongly early in the rally and even held down 3rd position at one stage, crashed yesterday and lost a significant amount of time dropping him out of the top 10.

Looking at the rest of the top five positions overall, Sam Sunderland has held onto third place, Kevin Benavides has jumped up to 4th and Joan Barreda is now 5th.

The top seven riders are all still within 20 minutes of the leader. Given how fortunes have changed so often in this year’s Dakar you would have to consider that all seven are still in the running.

Australian Daniel Sanders, who is gradually climbing his way up the leaderboard and now sits eighth in the general standings, would also be an outside chance of a podium finish.

Like Sanders, the other two Australians in this years event continue to improve each day.

Michael Burgess, the privateer from Bendigo in Victoria, continues to impress in his rookie year. He’s now 35th overall.

And Coca-Cola Racing’s Andrew Houlihan, who is good mates with Burgess, is now 58th after another consistent performance in today’s stage.

Houlihan came into this rally with the goal to complete it. Simply getting here was a massive achievement for the 51 year old from Albury.

He was left with life threatening injuries after a crash during the 2018 Hellas Rally in Greece.

The story of his long recovery and return to racing is inspiring, and shows the level of determination and commitment needed by these riders.

With Stage 8 done the riders have now met up with their support teams again in Neom. The marathon stage is over!

But does it get easier from here? No, not really!

At the end of the eighth stage, the overall placings are:

  • 1. Nacho (José Ignacio) Cornejo (#4 Monster Energy Honda) 
  • 2. Toby Price (#3 Red Bull KTM) +0:01:06
  • 3. Sam Sunderland (#5 Red Bull KTM) +0:05:57
  • 4. Kevin Benavides (#47 Monster Energy Honda) +0:12:58
  • 5. Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda) +0:16:05
  • 8. Daniel Sanders (#21 KTM Factory) +0:22:40
  • 35. Michael Burgess (#80 BAS Dakar KTM Racing) +6:59:32
  • 57. Pablo Guillen (#35 Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure) +16:10:56
  • 58. Andrew Houlihan (#62 Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure) +17:37:54

Motorcycle Life is supporting Andrew Houlihan and Pablo Guillen in their rookie year at the 2021 Dakar Rally.

For updates on their progress and more behind the scenes news, follow them on Facebook and Andrew’s website – The Road To Dakar 2021.

Andrew is also posting a daily diary on Speedcafe.