Dakar Rally 2021
Things are set to heat right up in the 2021 Dakar Rally, as riders enter the second week following a day of rest in Ha’il. Adding further pressure will be that at the conclusion of Stage Seven, riders will not be allowed any outside assistance upon reaching the bivouac in Sakaka. Keping their machine in working order will be totally on them.
Stage Seven itself covers 737 km, with the second longest timed special remaining of 471 km, with a route covering primarily mountain dunes and sand tracks.
Finishing the previous stage (Stage Six) on top were Joan Barreda, Ross Branch and Australian Daniel Sanders, however the overall standings told a different story.
Here Toby Price held the overall lead by 2m16s, followed by Kevin Benavides and Jose Ignacio Cornejo. Although Branch was fourth overall.
Aussie Toby Price will no doubt be aiming to stay at the pointy end, while maintaining consistency, with countryman Daniel Sanders currently sitting in 12th. Sanders has slowly been whittling his way towards the top 10 overall, and has already taken two top-three stage results in his first ever Dakar.
Kicking off Stage Seven was a Honda, a Yamaha and a KTM, with Barreda, Branch and Sanders the first riders to start, a position which hasn’t proven particularly lucky thus far.
Just 31 km into the stage Branch crashed, and while rider emerged unscathed, his machine was left requiring repairs. That would see Branch drop to 82nd by the first timed checkpoint.
Quickly moving into the lead was Price as the fastest rider to checkpoint one, with Sanders just 28s behind, with Xavier De Soultrait, Kevin Benavides and Luciano Benavides all in close contention.
By the mid-way checkpoint of the timed special (km 215), Price still retained his lead ahead of Brabec, Benavides, Soultrait and Sanders.
Shortly after Brabec grabbed the lead, pulling a 31s lead on Price as they passed the km 279 checkpoint, with Benavides charging hard.
80 km later, it was Benavides who moved into the lead, with Brabec now 40s behind and Price’s gap up to 1m29s.
Unfortunately Benavides seemed to run out of steam with just 50 km to go, suddenly dropping 10 minutes off the leaders.
Fastest across the finish line for the stage was Ricky Brabec, having dominated most of the day, within the top three. Cornejo meanwhile put on a late charge to move into second, trailing by 2m07s, with Skyler Howes in third a further 12s in arrears.
“Today I had a good day. I didn’t expect to win the stage but I’ll take it. I started catching Joan by refuelling and he was like a 1 minute ahead. When I caught up, we opened the track together to the finish. I open the track tomorrow with my teammate Nacho who finished second today.”
José Ignacio Cornejo
“I’ve finished the marathon stage well. In the first part I had some problems in the sandy area that was more difficult as it was wet. From then on, I managed to find my rhythm. Before getting to the refuelling I had a problem with the tank, I lost some minutes, but I was able to sort it out. After, I went all out to try to make up for the minutes I’d dropped. I did not make any navigation errors and was able to recover. I’ve taken over the leadership in the general standings, so I am very happy. At the moment the strategy is going well, but there are many days left and the fight is very close. So we will continue to take it day by day, as we have been doing up until now.”
Sam Sunderland came home in fourth, with Daniel Sanders the top Australian for the stage in an impressive fifth place, just 3m14s off the pace.
“It has been quite a hectic stage today – really long and difficult to know where the others are and where you are in terms of time. All you can do is keep pushing, but you don’t really see anyone else out there for three or four hours. I relied on my own judgement today and it seemed to have paid off. Even when you see the tracks ahead in the sand you have to focus on the road book to make sure you’re not making the same mistake as the riders ahead. I’m happy with how things went today, feeling good and the bike’s in good shape so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“I was having a pretty good day today until I had about 100km to go. I had been leading out a lot of the stage and was first to one big dune. I knew I had to turn left off the dune and go off piste, but I managed to hit a rock hidden in the sand with my front wheel and it just threw me straight off. I was going pretty fast and I just flew off and went head-first into the dune. Ricky stopped, which was good of him, and after rolling around winded for a bit I was ok. I damaged the bike a little – bent the front wheel and bars, but it was ok. Luckily, I was able to charge on to the finish. I’ll go over the bike and try and straighten it out for tomorrow and then I might need to get a couple of stitches myself.”
Toby Price had to settle for seventh as the day came to a close, having led for most of the day, a small issue in the final section ended up costing the Aussie a few minutes. Not leading into Stage Eight but close to the pointy end is probably the preferred place to be, with stage openers faring poorly.
“Everything went well today, I just tried to manage the stage as best as I could and not make any huge mistakes. It’s been a tough day but I’m happy with how things have gone, and it looks like we’re in good shape for tomorrow. Seven days done now, but still a fair few to go.”
Price having to cable-tie his rear tyre onto the rim wasn’t the best sight for fans, with Price sharing a video on social media saying, “Cross your fingers and toes for me today guys… the bush mechanic is back in action!”
View this post on Instagram
Completing the top ten for the day was Luciano Benavides, Joaquim Rodrigues and Franco Caimi.
“Everything went well today – I feel good, the bike is good – I did get lost a bit at the end but thankfully didn’t lose too much time. I had a much better feeling on the bike, so enjoyed the stage a lot more. I was caught by my brother so was able to ride with him for a little bit, which was nice. Overall, it was a solid day for me, the terrain was mostly sandy and fast but there were some rocks hidden in places. My tyres look good, but tomorrow will be another long day, we’re still in the fight so I will try my best again.”
Michael Burgess finished Stage Seven in 39th, while Joseph Houlihan came home in 62nd, both remaining consistent.
Cornejo claims the Dakar lead by 1s over Price
The provisional overall standings now reveal Jose Ignacio Cornejo in the lead, with a strong Stage Seven result pushing him just one-second clear of Toby Price.
In third sits Sam Sunderland 2m10s off Price, while Xavier De Soultrait was fourth and Kevin Benavides, who turned 31 yesterday, fifth.
Joan Barreda was just outside the top-five in sixth, followed by Skyler Howes and defending champion Ricky Brabec, who sits 14m52s off the leaders.
Australian Daniel Sanders also moved into the top-ten overall, and how holds ninth, while Luciano Benavides completes that top-ten. Just outside the top-ten in 11th was Sherco’s Lorenzo Santolino.
Pablo Quintanilla sits 12th, before a sizeable gap to Stefan Svitko (+34m52s), while top Yamaha riders are Adrian Van Beveren and Ross Branch in 14th and 15th respectively.
Australian Burgess now sits 38th overall, while countryman Houlihan claimed 60th.
Stage eight of the rally – the second half of the marathon stage – will see riders cover a total of 709km, of which, 375km will be timed special, ridden against the clock. The route to Neom will consist of a mixture of sandy tracks and rocky pistes, with tricky navigation testing riders’ road book skills.
2021 Dakar Rally Stage Seven Results (Provisional)
|1||R. BRABEC||USA||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:00:00=|
|2||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:02:07▲|
|3||S. HOWES||USA||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||+00:02:19▲|
|4||S. SUNDERLAND||GBR||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:02:52=|
|5||D. SANDERS||AUS||KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:03:14▲|
|6||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING||+00:03:57▼|
|7||T. PRICE||AUS||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:05:05▲|
|8||L. BENAVIDES||ARG||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||+00:05:49▼|
|9||J. RODRIGUES||PRT||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||+00:05:55▲|
|10||F. CAIMI||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||+00:06:46▼|
|11||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||+00:07:59▲|
|12||M. MICHEK||CZE||ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||+00:08:35▲|
|13||L. SANTOLINO||ESP||SHERCO FACTORY||+00:08:44▼|
|14||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:08:57▲|
|15||P. QUINTANILLA||CHL||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||+00:09:52▼|
|16||K. BENAVIDES||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:10:17▲|
|17||M. WALKNER||AUT||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:11:06▼|
|18||S. SVITKO||SVK||SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM||+00:14:26=|
|19||J. BETRIU||ESP||FN SPEED – KTM TEAM||+00:18:23=|
|20||T. SCHAREINA||ESP||FN SPEED – KTM TEAM||+00:20:38=|
|39||M. BURGESS||AUS||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||+01:15:41▼|
|62||AJ. HOULIHAN||AUS||NOMADAS ADVENTURE||+03:00:36=|
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Standings – After Stage Seven (Provisional)
|1||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||HONDA||28:51:31||0:00:00|
|4||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HUSQVARNA||28:54:05||+0:02:34|
|6||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||HONDA||29:01:49||+0:10:18|
|14||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||YAMAHA||29:29:13||+0:37:42|
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|