Dakar Rally 2021
After taking victory on Sunday in Stage One, Toby Price opened Stage Two of Dakar 2021. Monday featured a longer 457 kilometre special that featured plenty of deep sand dunes to really challenge riders and their 450 cc machines.
Ricky Brabec had opened Stage One after victory in the prologue, navigation proved difficult with the early leader and defending champion soon falling behind – a scene that repeated itself on Monday with Price losing lots of ground while having to conserve fuel after only being able to draw from his front fuel tanks due to a technical glitch. The 33-year-old lost more than half-an-hour on Monday.
Riders made a start from Bisha in cool temperatures before heading out onto the 135-kilometre liaison section which led to the starting point of the special stage. At the start of the 457-kilometre special, competitors faced low dunes and fast, open track, with the advantage always favouring the pursuers, proving to be a great handicap for the front-runners eager to fend them off. Later on, the stage hit level two and three type dunes, before ending on narrow stony areas and dried-out river beds. Finally – some 96 kilometres of link stage later – the riders found themselves back at the Wadi Al-Dawasir bivouac, which will be home-base for the coming two days.
Stage Two Report
Price trailed Joan Barreda by almost 5m30s at the first time check point with that gap to only lengthen as the day went on. The route’s combination of tricky dunes followed by navigationally intense tracks and valleys.
The second rider to start, Kevin Benavides, trailed Barreda by 2m42s at this stage. With riders limited in tyres, there’ll also no doubt be some strategising going on. Brabec admitted yesterday that tyre management was top of mind even for the opening stage.
Toby Price will no doubt be playing the long game but was visibly frustrated at times on Monday. With two previous Dakar wins under his belt, in 2016 and 2019, and ten stages yet to go, there is plenty of time for him to reel riders back in as long as he keeps his nose clean from here on in.
Barreda extended his lead throughout the day, proving fastest through every checkpoint all the way through to the finish line.
Australian Daniel Sanders proved another rider to watch, just 25s off the leader at the first checkpoint, and staying within the top three for the majority of the day, before losing time late in the day as the stage came to an end after making a navigation mistake.
“It was a very good stage. We were forced to attack from the very first kilometre until the end and the truth is that it went well. But this is only the second stage of the Dakar and we know that tomorrow it will be difficult starting from the front once again. You have to stay calm, try not to make any mistakes and take it stage by stage.”
Ricky Brabec was second fastest, 3m55s off leader Barreda who claimed a historic 25th stage win – now the fourth best rider in the Dakar role of honour – while Pablo Quintanilla completes the top three. Ross Branch sits fourth, as fastest Yamaha, while José Ignacio Cornejo made for a third Monster Energy Honda rider in the stage’s top five.
“Unfortunately we didn’t win, but I’m not sure if I want to win a stage for the rest of this Dakar. It bit us hard yesterday. It’s going to be a long Dakar. We are going to do our best each day to finish each and every day. We’re trying to make up time that we lost. We have ten days left. Right now we’re in a good spot. We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to keep the bike moving fast. Today was really fast. I feel the navigation wasn’t that tricky. It’s a different story when you are opening the stage. My team-mate Kevin found that out today. He’s a solid opener, but he had a couple of issues. He lost time as well as Toby. We are safe and healthy and ready for day three.“
Chilean rider Quintanilla, runner-up at the 2020 Dakar, moved up into the top five by the first checkpoint and didn’t look back, maintaining a great rhythm over the various changes in terrain to ultimately complete the 457km timed special as third fastest.
“It was a really good day for me today – it was a long stage, really fast with some tricky navigation in places. Things started off tough right from the beginning with some very soft dunes, some of them were difficult to cross. Then some faster valleys between dunes, which I really liked – it suits my riding style and I much prefer it to the slower technical sections. It looks like there will be more dunes tomorrow, so we’ll see how things go.”
With Ross never falling outside the top six throughout the stage, the Yamaha WR450F Rally mounted rider rode an impeccable ride throughout the technical 457-kilometre special. chasing down the leading riders.
“It was another good day for me today. I really enjoyed the stage and it was nice to follow some tracks and focus on my riding. The stage was tricky towards the end, some technical sections that required accurate navigation but we got through that fine, so it was a good day at the office. This year’s rally is really tough but I’m having a great time here with the team and loving the racing so I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
That marks an impressive turn-around for Brabec who started from 24th, proving consistent through the day. D
Daniel Sanders also had a tremendous day, despite being a rookie to Dakar and Rally in general, and is certainly repaying KTM’s faith in him. A previous ISDE outright winner in enduro, the young Victorian is only just starting out in Rally competition and completed Stage Two in ninth as top performing Australian. That late drop off saw Sanders go from second at km 351 down to ninth, and a 16m31s deficit to the leader.
“Today started off really well for me, it was a fast stage and difficult to make up time on the guys ahead, but I was riding well and felt comfortable enough to push. Unfortunately, towards the end of the stage, I missed a note in the road book and ended up losing over 10 minutes. It’s frustrating, but all part of the learning process. I’ve got a good start position for tomorrow, so I’ll give it my best again and try and close down on the leaders.”
Fellow Australian Price saw his 5m30s gap at the first check point lengthen to 32m00s at completion of the stage, leaving him 28th, with navigation as opening rider and slow headway in the dunes having an impact after a technical glitch saw him only able to draw fuel from the forward tanks of his KTM Rally machine.
“Overall, I’m happy with how my day has gone. It was always going to be difficult to lead out, but I think that’s going to be the case every day this year. The first 100 kilometres went well, then Kevin (Benavides) caught up and I rode about 150 km behind him until he made a mistake, and I took over the lead again. In the later part of the special I had a small issue with the fueling on the bike, which meant I had to ease off a little, but thankfully didn’t lose too much more time. We got caught today by the guys behind, but that was to be expected. Hopefully I can make some of that back again tomorrow in the dunes.”
Michael Burgess meanwhile finished the stage in 45th and Joseph Houlihan (Nomadas Adventure) 67th.
The general standings as they now sit have Barreda in the lead, 6m23s ahead of Brabec, while Ross Branch is just 14s further back. Pablo Quintanilla holds fourth as top Husqvarna, just ahead of De Soultrait, while Adrien Van Beven is sixth. Benavides, Howes, Sviitko and Santolino (top Sherco) complete the top-10.
Toby Price remains the top ranked Australian in 15th, 17m39s off overall pace,. Daniel Sanders is 18th. Michael Burgess currently sits 42nd (+1h49m) with a five-minute penalty applied. Houlihan meanwhile is ranked 68th, despite a 25-minute penalty.
After the third best time on the first stage, Matthias Walkner was intent on following the pace of his team-mate Toby Price on the special heading to Wadi Ad-Dawasir. However, a clutch problem put paid to these plans after he got stuck in a dune shortly after reaching the 46 km point. Forced to stop and repair his machine, this manoeuvre cost the Austrian more than 2 hours in lost time. Despite all that, he managed to reach the finishing line and, even though he will try to claw back the time lost over the next few days, it looks like he has lost any hope of regaining the title that he won in 2018. It is likely that KTM has lost one of its major assets in the quest to regain its crown. Although the gaps are still small, the entire team will not be happy because it does not have a representative in the top 10 of the general standings. Sam Sunderland, in 12th place, trails Barreda by 12’50’’.
Tomorrow Stage Three sees the first looping stage of this Dakar 2021, held between Wadi Al-Dawasir – Wadi Al-Dawasir, with 403 kilometres against the clock, plus a 226 km liaison section, making up a total stage of 629 kilometres for the one hundred or so riders taking part.
2021 Dakar Rally – Stage Two Results (Updated)
|1||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:00:00=|
|2||R. BRABEC||USA||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:03:55=|
|3||P. QUINTANILLA||CHL||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||00:06:02=|
|4||R. BRANCH||BWA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||00:11:54=|
|5||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:12:06=|
|6||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||00:12:42=|
|7||S. SVITKO||SVK||SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM||00:14:15=|
|8||L. BENAVIDES||ARG||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||00:15:21▲|
|9||D. SANDERS||AUS||KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:16:31▼|
|10||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING||00:17:24▲|
|11||S. HOWES||USA||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||00:18:01▲|
|12||J. RODRIGUES||PRT||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||00:18:08▼|
|13||L. SANTOLINO||ESP||SHERCO FACTORY||00:20:11▲|
|14||S. BÜHLER||DEU||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||00:20:47▼|
|15||O. MENA||ESP||FN SPEED – RIEJU TEAM||00:21:14=|
|16||S. SUNDERLAND||GBR||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:23:00▲|
|17||J. BETRIU||ESP||FN SPEED – KTM TEAM||00:23:33▲|
|18||M. MICHEK||CZE||ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||00:23:36▼|
|19||J. MCCANNEY||GBR||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||00:25:47=|
|20||J. BRABEC||CZE||STROJRENT RACING||00:26:34=|
|21||R. GONCALVES||PRT||SHERCO FACTORY||00:27:24=|
|22||M. GIEMZA||POL||ORLEN TEAM||00:28:14=|
|23||L. SANZ||ESP||GAS GAS FACTORY TEAM||00:28:32=|
|24||K. BENAVIDES||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:28:58▲|
|25||M. ENGEL||CZE||ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||00:29:18▼|
|26||J. PEDRERO GARCIA||ESP||FN SPEED – RIEJU TEAM||00:30:00=|
|27||A. TOMICZEK||POL||ORLEN TEAM||00:31:11=|
|28||T. PRICE||AUS||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:32:00▲|
|45||M. BURGESS||AUS||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||01:16:46▲|
|67||AJ. HOULIHAN||AUS||NOMADAS ADVENTURE||02:19:37▼|
2021 Dakar Rally – Overall Rankings Stage Two (Updated)
|1||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||HONDA||8:15:38||0:00:00|
|5||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HUSQVARNA||8:24:03||0:08:25|
|6||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||YAMAHA||8:24:12||0:08:34|
|11||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||HONDA||8:27:40||0:12:02|
|22||J. PEDRERO GARCIA||ESP||KTM||8:46:01||0:30:23|
2021 Dakar Schedule
|Stage||Date||Start > Finish||Total||Special|
|P||Saturday, January 2, 2021||Jeddah > Jeddah||11 km||11 km|
|1||Sunday, January 3, 2021||Jeddah > Bisha||622 km||277 km|
|2||Monday, January 4, 2021||Bisha > Wadi Al Dawasir||685 km||457 km|
|3||Tuesday, January 5, 2021||Wadi Al Dawasir > Wadi Al Dawasir||630 km||403 km|
|4||Wednesday, January 6, 2021||Wadi Al Dawasir > Riyadh||813 km||337 km|
|5||Thursday, January 7, 2021||Riyadh > Buraydah||625 km||419 km|
|6||Friday, January 8, 2021||Buraydah > Ha’il||655 km||485 km|
|Rest||Saturday, January 9, 2021||Ha’il (Rest Day)||–||–|
|7||Sunday, January 10, 2021||Ha’il > Sakaka||737 km||471 km|
|8||Monday, January 11, 2021||Sakaka > Neom||709 km||375 km|
|9||Tuesday, January 12, 2021||Neom > Neom||579 km||465 km|
|10||Wednesday, January 13, 2021||Neom > Al-Ula||583 km||342 km|
|11||Thursday, January 14, 2021||Al-Ula > Yanbu||557 km||511 km|
|12||Friday, January 15, 2021||Yanbu > Jeddah||452 km||225 km|