Back to the action after the rest day, the Dakar Rally entered its last week in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. Stage number nine made the connection between Riyadh and Haradh, with a special stage of 359 kilometers and a liaison of 328 km. Wadis, canyons and dunes were the ingredients of a day where navigation was once again a key factor of success.
Monster Energy Honda Team had a hard day but keeps a strong position in the top ten. Jose Ignacio Cornejo, who is doing here his seventh Dakar, was today the fastest one of the squad. He finished in fifth place (6:12 minutes gap to the leader) and managed to climb some steps in the overall standings, where he sits now in eighth position. On his eighth Dakar Rally, Adrien Van Beveren reached Haradh in the 14th position (15:48 minutes gap to the leader) but did not compromise his ranking in the overall standings (4th place). Pablo Quintanilla is the most experienced of the team, he started the Dakar Rally back in 2013 and was second last year. He finished today’s stage in 18th position (18:36 minutes gap to the leader) and will start stage number 10 in the 5th place of the overall standings.
Tomorrow is time to move in the direction of Shaybah to race the 10th stage of the race. This selective section has been kept deliberately short – just 114 kilometers – as an approach into the bowels of the Empty Quarter. A long liaison (508 km) will take up most of the day, so this true appetizer will be mainly composed of the local delicacy: sand.
“This was a difficult stage for Monster Energy Honda Team in the comeback from the rest day. Nacho Cornejo did very well and managed to approach himself to the top contenders and shorten his gap climbing one step in the overall standings. Adrien and Pablo had quite a hard day opening the track. They know how it is in the Dakar when you are in those circumstances. I know they did their best and were both able to keep positions in the overall standings, losing some time but still in a very good position to say a word in the discussion for this year’s title”.
José Ignacio Cornejo
“This was the first stage after the rest day. Navigation was kind of tricky, we started with some dunes then some rocky piste. I was feeling pretty good from the beginning, made no navigation mistakes and was riding at a good pace. Then I crashed, not too fast, but got stuck under the bike and damaged the road-book. I have to thank Santolino because he was there and helped me. I lost some minutes, but not too much and managed to continue at a good pace. ”
Adrien Van Beveren
“This was a hard day for me. I started fifth and at around kilometer one hundred the navigation was tricky in the big plateau and it was difficult to see the tracks. Then I found the waypoint and then we were all five riders together. Mason was riding without a road-book very close to me and around 20 km from the end he came from behind and we both crashed. So I am glad I could make it to the end of the stage.”
“This was a tough day for us, the ones who were riding in front. I caught the group in front at around 120 km. There was a tricky note in the road-book close to a plateau and I lost 2 or 3 minutes there. Then Adrien caught me and we were riding together until the end. It was really difficult today, because the road-book had a lot of different directions. We knew we were going to lose some time. It is always easier when you come from behind. The Dakar is like this, sometimes you get a good position, others you just don’t”.
- From Monster Energy Honda Team