Monster Energy Honda Team’s Kevin Benavides produced an excellent showing to take third place on the overall leader board – a minute and a half adrift of the leader – after the first leg of the Super Marathon stage held today between Al Wajh and Neom. All the riders now lie in the overall top ten.
The second stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally proved to be a positive one for the Monster Energy Honda Team, which places all four factory riders in the top ten of the general rankings. Kevin Benavides currently holds the third step of the overall podium.
It was a high-speed affair today in spite of the fact that – for the first time in Dakar history – riders were issued with the roadbooks just minutes prior to the start of the stage. Fast track, rock-filled winding canyons and dry river beds were in store. Most of the trajectory was flat but the multiple parallel tracks demanded particularly tough navigation from all the riders, frontrunners and followers alike.
Kevin Benavides stood out today in the special and replicated yesterday’s fourth final place to move up into third overall position in the rally, some ninety seconds behind the leader.
Another fast-paced rider was Joan Barreda, who might have even won the stage had it not been for a minor fall when he was looking the roadbook notes. The Spaniard finished sixth on the day and eighth overall in the rally. Behind him lies José Ignacio Cornejo who also turned out a fine showing. The Chilean, seventh today, climbs one place on the overall leader board and now holds tenth place. American team-mate Ricky Brabec, also managed the situation skilfully and, in spite of having to start the day from second position, was able to post eleventh final place which leaves the rider in fifth position overall some four minutes shy of the overall leader.
Aaron Maré, after injuring a hand in a heavy fall on stony ground yesterday, this morning underwent observations to discern the extent of the injury and it was decided by both the team and the rider alike, that due to injury it would be better not to not take the start-line.
Tomorrow sees the final leg of the Super Marathon on a looping 489-kilometre course in Neom, including 404 kilometres against the clock. Riders can look forward to varied terrain types and the highest altitude to be encountered during the rally.
This is… Stage 3
Liaison > 84 km – Special > 404 km – Total > 489 km
The circuit from the future megacity of Neom is a real gem. Taking competitors to the border with Jordan, the rally offers a series of canyons and mountains to explore on a carpet of sand. During this special stage, the Dakar will reach its highest point, at an altitude of 1,400 metres.