January 25, 2021

Dakar 2021: Cornejo out, Honda take charge

Daniel Sanders, Dakar 2021 (Photo credit: A.S.O./A.Vincent/DPPI)

Nacho Cornejo took an 11 minute 24 second advantage into today’s 10th stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally.

If he could keep himself and the bike upright and in one piece he was looking good for a Dakar win.

But that’s not what happens in the Dakar Rally!

He was tracking second fastest behind a determined and hard charging Ricky Brabec until he crashed at the 252km mark. He managed to get back on the bike and finish the stage 17 minutes and 42 seconds behind Brabec but has been ruled out of the rally after a medical.

That’s devastating news for Cornejo, and his withdrawal means that once again this year’s title is wide open!

So who’s where now? Let’s figure it out.

Ricky Brabec’s stage win today moves him up to second place, and Kevin Benavides third place puts him in the overall lead. Brabec trails Benavides by just 51 seconds.

Confused yet? But wait, there’s more.

Joan Barreda, who finished second today moved up to fifth but with the departure of Cornejo he’s actually fourth.

That’s 3 Hondas in the top 4.

The leading KTM is now Sam Sunderland – a position inherited with Toby Price’s unceremonious exit from the rally yesterday. Sunderland finished 8th today but that puts him into fourth overall which now becomes third because Cornejo’s out!

So it’s Benavides, Brabec, Sunderland and Barreda, and they’re all separated by just 15 minutes and 40 seconds.

Phew! I’m glad we sorted all that out.

And Honda appear to have a firm grip on the trophy – or did I say that too soon?

Now enter a random thought. Remember how we said yesterday that Daniel Sanders was knocking on the door of a top 5 finish?

Well he’s still 6th. And given what’s happened in the last 2 days, still don’t rule him out. If these guys at the front keep dropping out, he’s in. And wouldn’t that be good for his first year!

Andrew Houlihan is now 52nd overall after another steady run today.

“Another day, another stage completed.”

That’s how Andrew Houlihan is looking at it as he pushes through incredible pain from a broken scaphoid in his right wrist.

“More bloody stones and rocks today. Really took its toll on the wrist!” he said at the end of Stage 10.

He rode with his Coca-Cola Nomadas teammate Pablo Guillen for most of the day and did most of the navigation.

“I really enjoyed it and when I needed a break I’d swap with him for a bit”, Andrew said.

The scenery through Stage 10 was spectacular. Winding tracks through beautiful canyons and undulating sandy sections.

And the weather has been kind this year as well. Last year the area was covered in snow but the Neom area has been experiencing 25-30° days and mild nights.

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

  • 1. Kevin Benavides (#47 Monster Energy Honda)
  • 2. Ricky Brabec (#1 Monster Energy Honda) +0:00:51
  • 3. Sam Sunderland (#5 Red Bull KTM) +0:10:36
  • 4. Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda) +0:15:40
  • 5. Skyler Howes (#9 BAS Dakar KTM Racing)
  • 6. Daniel Sanders (#21 KTM Factory) +0:38:23
  • 29. Michael Burgess (#80 BAS Dakar KTM Racing) +8:47:19
  • 50. Pablo Guillen (#35 Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure) +20:07:30
  • 52. Andrew Houlihan (#62 Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure) +21:54:02

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.