September 17, 2021

Dakar 2021: Price out, Cornejo in the box seat

Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo during the 9th stage of the Dakar 2021 (Photo credit: DPPI/J.Delfosse)

Toby Price is out of the 2021 Dakar Rally.

Price crashed 155km into the special and injured his left arm and shoulder. He was later airlifted to hospital in Tabuk for x-rays and treatment.

Organisers report that he was fully conscious after the crash.

Toby had made a strong start today, taking a 48 second lead over Nacho Cornejo by the first waypoint, and was in a good position to take the overall win before the crash.

Ricky Brabec and Red Bull KTM teammate Sam Sunderland waited with Price until a medical team arrived. They both lost around 20 minutes while helping Toby, but that will be credited back to them at the end of the stage.

It was a day of chaos, drama and disappointment, and Price isn’t the only big name to exit the rally today.

Ross Branch is also out after the engine in his Yamaha failed. It’s the second engine failure in 2 days for the factory Yamaha outfit after Franco Caimi’s let go 280km into yesterday’s special.

Yamaha had also lost Andrew Short and Jamie McCanney earlier in the rally, and Adrien van Beveren is now their only remaining official representative.

It’s a sad end to Branch’s first Dakar with the Monster Energy Yamaha squad. He had shown great form early, even holding down 3rd place after stage 2.

A crash yesterday had set him back, and he lost plenty of time trying to free the chain that had come off and jammed.

Luciano Benavides also crashed out and was taken to hospital by helicopter. He was in 3rd place at the time.

His older brother, Kevin, clearly had a far better day. He dropped several places initially, but had made up time to be in the lead by the 239km waypoint and never looked like losing it again. He took the stage win from Nacho Cornejo by 1 minute 34 seconds.

Cornejo seems to have broken the curse that has sent stage winners plummeting down the leaderboard the very next day. 

Emotions were running high with many riders today. It’s a year since Paulo Goncalves crashed and died, and ironically it was Toby Price who stopped to assist him.

#62 Andrew Houlihan, Stage 9 2021 Dakar Rally

The Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure team riders Pablo Guillen and Andrew Houlihan both had good results today.

They bolted out of the start this morning, each picking up over 20 places by the first waypoint.

Guillen maintained most of his gains finishing 43rd today. That is enough to move him up to 51st place.

Andrew Houlihan, who revealed yesterday that he has been racing with a broken scaphoid, lost some of his advantage but still finished well up on his starting position.

He is now 53rd overall.

After the events of today, Cornejo has emerged as the clear leader and the rider in the strongest position to take the overall win. He has a commanding lead of 11 minutes 24 seconds over Kevin Benavides.

Daniel Sanders is now the best placed Australian in 6th overall. He is 9 minutes and 23 seconds behind 5th placed Joan Barreda, but don’t rule him out just yet. Given what’s happened today, if he can stay out of trouble he’s at least knocking on the door of the top 5.

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

  • 1. Nacho (José Ignacio) Cornejo (#4 Monster Energy Honda) 
  • 2. Kevin Benavides (#47 Monster Energy Honda) +0:11:24
  • 3. Sam Sunderland (#5 Red Bull KTM) +0:14:34
  • 4. Ricky Brabec (#1 Monster Energy Honda) +0:17:26
  • 5. Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda) +0:29:00
  • 6. Daniel Sanders (#21 KTM Factory) +0:38:23
  • 30. Michael Burgess (#80 BAS Dakar KTM Racing) +8:07:55
  • 51. Pablo Guillen (#35 Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure) +18:45:03 
  • 53. Andrew Houlihan (#62 Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure) +20:36:22

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.