Dakar Rally 2021
In an unfortunate turn of events for Australia and KTM’s Dakar 2021 efforts, Toby Price had to be air-lifted out of Stage Nine around the 155 km mark after crashing and requiring medical attention for a broken collarbone. His team-mate Sam Sunderland and defending champion Ricky Brabec stopped to come to his aid as he awaited the medical team, with their times for the stage later updated to reflect stopping to help a downed rider.
Toby Price looked well on his way to winning another Dakar Rally, with two victories already under his belt, and an impressive set of results overall. Price has always finished on the podium, when he completed the Dakar Rally, only having to withdraw in 2017 when he crashed and broke his femur. He took third in 2015 at his debut Dakar, then won in 2016 when he returned. 2018 saw him once again third, before taking another win in 2019 despite riding with a broken wrist. 2020 marked Toby Price finishing third once again. Our best wishes go to Price on a speedy recovery.
Stage Nine Report
Stage Nine itself was a relatively short 579 km stay, however the majority of that was the 465 km special, with riders following a route that looped north of Neom. Mainly featuring stony pistes and sandy tracks the stage was expected to be one of the toughest of the event.
Jose Ignacio Cornejo opened the stage, ahead of Price and Brabec, with Sunderland and Kevin Benavides as the first five riders to set off for the day. Australian Daniel Sanders kicked off from seventh.
With no rider yet able to convert opening a stage into a win, all eyes were on Cornejo to see whether he’d be the first.
91 km into Stage Nine it was Ricky Brabec and Cornejo still in the lead, with Kevin Benavides not far behind. Price had also regained time lost earlier in the stage, closing back in on the leaders, with Sunderland and Luciano Benavides just a minute out, ahead of Yamaha’s Ross Branch and Adrien Van Beveren.
Shortly after Ross Branch would be forced to retire, engine issues ending the leading Yamaha’s efforts.
Not long after Toby Price would have his Dakar ending crash, with the Australian just a minute behind Cornejo in the overall standings with two-thirds of the rally complete and looking on track for another strong performance.
The 198 km checkpoint still saw Cornejo leading Kevin Benavides, with Van Beveren a further six minutes off the leaders, more closely followed by Hero Motosports Rodrigues, with Pablo Quintanilla in the top five.
Daniel Sanders had a strong start, moving into third for the first checkpoint, before dropping to tenth by the fourth checkpoint, losing three-minutes. That would extend to a 12-minute gap to the leader at the mid-way point.
Reaching the 300 km mark Kevin Benavides took the lead, with Cornejo falling almost three-minutes behind, with the rest of the field unable to close the gap. Van Beveren, Walkner and Sanders were closest however, in third, fourth and fifth.
At the finish line it was K. Benavides who took the stage win, marking his second of this Dakar, while Brabec, who stopped to help Price ending up second, with the spent spent assisting another rider struck off, equating to about 20-minutes.
“We can say that today was a really hard special stage. Today, it is a year ago since the death of my friend Paulo Gonçalves. I aimed to do the best possible stage and this victory is dedicated to him. I’m happy with the job done, but I also have a mixed emotions as at the end of the stage I found out that my brother had fallen and got injured. I found out that he’s fine, so that has calmed me down, but it’s been a strange day nevertheless. There are three more days left and everything could change, so you have to be focused and give your all on a day-to-day basis.”
“Today was definitely tough. We started third. We all had a long day today – there were 465 kilometres – that’s a long day for the navigation and it’s a long day in the desert. Unfortunately Toby had gone down, and I stopped for him for about 20 minutes. I was just waiting for the helicopter to get there. It’s a shame. He was definitely up there, fighting for the win. It happens. Every morning when we put our gear on, things like this can happen and we know it. It’s just the risk that we are willing to take. Unfortunately, the second week is going to be brutal. Last year we came here first, then we ended in the sand dunes. It was smooth. But this year we are starting in the dunes and finishing in the rocks and the rough, bumpy traces and river-beds. This week you don’t want to sleep too much. You want to stay focused. There’s three days left, but look what happened today with a few riders. Three days left and a lot can happen still. We are just going to try and stay focused and make it to the finish-line.”
Cornejo was third fastest, 1m34s off leading pace, with fourth placed Sunderland also having his time corrected to account for stopping to help Price, finishing 10m11s off the lead.
José Ignacio Cornejo
“Today was a really tough stage, with many rocks and it was very long. I started first and the idea was to open as fast as possible so that the riders wouldn’t be able to cut down the time. Toby Price who came out behind me and was battling with me in the general standings, unfortunately fell. This is news that we never want to hear, that one of the guys has been injured – hopefully it is nothing serious. As far as the stage went, I opened throughout the entire special, which was very long and mentally tough. I didn’t drop a lot of time so I’m very happy with today’s job. There is less and less distance until the end. Now it’s time to rest and focus on tomorrow’s stage.”
“Obviously, it’s been a pretty rough day today. I started off strong, and was making good progress, handling the tricky navigation well. Then I came across Toby lying in the riverbed with Brabec already stopped with him. I helped there till the helicopter arrived then set off again and tried to get back into a good rhythm. Around 100 kilometres or so after that I was opening up for the group I was with and was looking down at the road book, hit a rock and was sent over the handlebars. It was quite a big crash, quite a big impact, and luckily I wasn’t too badly hurt. But I damaged the road book tower on the bike and had no navigation from then on. I managed to reach the finish by following others but that’s always hard. A really tough day for the team, but this is Dakar and it’s always a challenge. We’ll regroup and do our best again tomorrow.”
Van Beveren completed the top five, ahead of Matthias Walkner and Joan Barreda. Lorenzo Santolino was eighth and top Sherco.
Adrien Van Beveren
“Today was a really good day for me and I’m really pleased with my riding, my navigation, everything went perfect for me. There wasn’t as much sand on the stage as expected, but I was still able to make a good result, so this gives me a lot of confidence for the coming days. It feels like all the work that I put in has finally paid off, up until today it didn’t feel that way so I have a really good feeling now and look ahead to ending the Dakar with more strong results.”
“Yeah, it’s been a really, really tough day through lots of canyons with rocks everywhere. In the beginning it was very enjoyable, starting close to the ocean and then heading into a nice valley. But then when we came into the stony pistes it was a lot more challenging and I just tried my best to stay safe through there and make it to the finish line. I’m happy with how I rode, but obviously with my friends and teammates having crashes today, it is not such a good feeling. I wish them all the best and will try to focus again for tomorrow.”
Daniel Sanders was running as high as fifth in the latter stages of the day, however closed out the stage just inside the top-ten in ninth, eventually 17m17s off the lead. That was despite snapping off his gear shifter just 50 km into the race in a crash, as well as losing all his water from the water pack. Another crash later in the stage didn’t help, taking its toll on rider and machine, marking a particularly difficult day for the Australian.
“It was a really hard day today. It started off nice on the beach with some cool sand tracks and I got into a nice rhythm and felt good on the bike. Then at the 50-kilometre mark I had a crash in the rocks, snapped my gear lever and banged myself up pretty good. I got going again but had lost all the water out of my water pack, so it was a bit of a thirsty day today. Then when I came across Toby, I stopped quickly just to make sure he was ok before carrying on to the finish. I did have another crash, which bust the bike up a little, but I made it back ok. There’s still three days to go, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Completing the top-ten was Skyler Howes, with Pablo Quintanilla the top Husqvarna in 11th.
“It was definitely the toughest stage of the rally. In the morning, I saw Toby lying on the ground but the helicopter was already with him and so I carried on, even though it was difficult to focus after seeing something like that. After the refuelling, I started to feel better and was able to increase my pace a little bit, but then I found Luciano on the ground and I stopped for him. It was difficult to see because he was in a lot of pain, but thankfully not too badly injured. I stayed with him until the helicopter arrived. From there to the end, I just wanted to get back safely and finish the day. I’m really sorry for Toby and Luciano and wish them well.”
Luciano Benavides had climbed to third place on stage nine and was looking set to deliver his best result of the rally so far. Caught out by one of the many rocks that littered the day’s special, the young Argentinian fell heavily, dislocating his shoulder. Unable to continue, Luciano was taken to the nearby hospital for further checks and unfortunately will play no further part in this year’s event.
Australian Michael Burgess was 28th, 1h09m57s off the lead, while countryman Joseph Houlihan finished 52nd, about three-hours off the leaders.
Monster Energy Honda Team take a dominant overall lead
Jose Ignacio Cornejo extended his overall lead in the 2021 Dakar Rally to 11m24s following the withdrawal of his previously closest competitor, Toby Price.
Honda team-mate Kevin Benavides moved into second (+11m24s), with Sam Sunderland rounding out the top three following Stage Nine, trailing the lead by 14m34s.
Fourth and fifth respectively were defending champion Ricky Brabec and Joan Barreda, with Brabec 17m26s off leading pace, with a sizeable gap opening to Barreda at +29m00s.
Australian Daniel Sanders’ consistency continued to provide dividends, with the young Victorian moving into sixth, as second overall KTM.
Skyler Howes sits seventh, ahead of Lorenzo Santolino, who is the leading Sherco rider.
Ninth is Pablo Quintanilla as leading Husqvarna rider (+1h00m37s), with top Yamaha Adrien Van Beveren in 11th (+1h17m48s). Between the two sits Svitko.
Michael Burgess now sits 30th in the overall standings, with Joseph Houlihan 53rd.
Day 10 of the rally leaves Neom and initially heads south along the Red Sea coast. Totalling 583km, the stage then heads inland and comprises a mixture of terrain in the deep, rocky valleys. Riders will face a tough but slightly shorter 342-kilometre timed special against the clock as they head into the final third of the 2021 Dakar Rally.
2021 Dakar Rally Stage Nine Results
|1||K. BENAVIDES||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:00:00=|
|2||R. BRABEC||USA||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:01:18▲|
|3||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:01:34▼|
|4||S. SUNDERLAND||GBR||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:10:11▲|
|5||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||00:13:52=|
|6||M. WALKNER||AUT||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:14:19▼|
|7||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:14:29▼|
|8||L. SANTOLINO||ESP||SHERCO FACTORY||00:16:43▼|
|9||D. SANDERS||AUS||KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:17:17▼|
|10||S. HOWES||USA||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||00:22:39▼|
|11||P. QUINTANILLA||CHL||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY||00:23:30▲|
|12||S. SVITKO||SVK||SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM||00:27:59▲|
|13||J. RODRIGUES||PRT||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||00:31:48▼|
|14||O. MENA||ESP||FN SPEED – RIEJU TEAM||00:34:04▼|
|15||M. ENGEL||CZE||ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||00:36:16▼|
|16||J. BETRIU||ESP||FN SPEED – KTM TEAM||00:39:09▼|
|17||HN. KOITHA VEETTIL||IND||SHERCO FACTORY||00:40:34▼|
|18||J. PEDRERO GARCIA||ESP||FN SPEED – RIEJU TEAM||00:40:36▼|
|19||D. KNIGHT||GBR||HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING||00:42:41▼|
|20||M. MICHEK||CZE||ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||00:44:34▼|
|28||M. BURGESS||AUS||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||01:09:57▲|
|52||AJ. HOULIHAN||AUS||NOMADAS ADVENTURE||03:00:02▲|
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Standings – After Stage Nine
|1||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||HONDA||36:51:00||0:00:00|
|5||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||HONDA||37:20:00||0:29:00|
|11||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||YAMAHA||38:08:48||1:17:48|
|18||J. PEDRERO GARCIA||ESP||KTM||40:15:14||3:24:14|
|20||L. SANZ||ESP||GAS GAS||41:26:47||4:35:47|
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|