Dakar Rally 2021
Toby Price may have won Stage One on Sunday, before Honda’s Joan Barreda claimed Stage Two victory on Monday. That of course meant that Barreda opened Stage Three on Tuesday, the first looping stage of Dakar 2021, held between Wadi Al-Dawasir and Wadi Al-Dawasir on Tuesday. Stage Three saw riders face 403 kilometres against the clock, plus a 226 km liaison section, making up a total stage of 629 kilometres for Tuesday. The route included dunes near the start of the stage and desert tracks towards the finish.
Barreda was the first rider to tackle the Wadi Ad-Dawasir dunes after claiming both a historic 25th stage win on Monday, and with it the overall lead. Barreda went into the stage with Ricky Brabec and Pablo Quintanilla hot on his heels, however through the first timed check point it was Kevin Benavides fastest, with Toby Price just 23s slower.
Using his formidable cross-country rally experience, the Australian was able to push hard right from the off, making light work of the dunes, before subsequently making up even more ground on the faster tracks.
Daniel Sanders set off ninth but dropped to 17th at the first checkpoint. The Victorian broke back into the top 10 at the 262 km checkpoint. Matthias Walkner, who lost two hours yesterday with clutch/gearbox problems, was having a much better day, third fastest for the stage.
As the dust settled on completed of Stage Three it was Toby Price fastest overall, ending the day 1m16s ahead of Benavides who had held him off until km 292. Walkner was third, 2m36s off the leader.
American Skyler Howes was another KTM in the top five with the BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team, alongside Red Bull KTM Factory Team’s Sam Sunderland in fifth.
That meant four KTM machines in the top five for the stage provisionally, with Benavides on the Monster Energy Honda in second. The stage win also marked two-time Dakar winner Toby Price’s 13th, with all three Red Bull KTM Factory riders in the top five.
“Everything went well today – no crashes, the bike has been good, and I was able to find a good rhythm. It’s great to win another stage, but it’s a bit like a yoyo at the moment – it’s difficult to lead a stage out from the front as you can lose a lot of time, and then you have to push hard the next day to make it all up again. Hopefully one day we’ll catch a bit of a break, the navigation won’t be too tough, and I can stretch things out from the front. Right now, every day is crucial, and I think if it carries on like this, with everyone staying fit and their bikes working good, the battle for the win is going to go down to the very last day.”
Argentinean Kevin Benavides got off to a strong start, hoping to clinch a stage victory, but eventually having to settle for the second best time of the day.
“Very happy to be in front again. Today I started from behind and I knew how to take advantage of this situation. I went out to do my best and I felt very comfortable with the bike and with the speed. Glad to have made up some time. Tomorrow it will be time to open the track, so I will have to try to do my best. This Dakar is turning out to be very different, with a lot of ups and downs, but for now I am very happy and eager to continue.”
“It was quite a nice day today, but so, so fast – I think for 70 or 80 percent of the day I was flat out. There was a good mix of fast tracks and tricky navigation, but in general, I enjoyed the stage. Obviously, I’m still disappointed after losing so much time yesterday and it’s going to be hard to improve my position in the overall, but my plan is to take each day as it comes now and do the best for myself and the team.”
Despite a couple of small navigation errors early in the stage, after starting 16th, 2017 Dakar winner Sunderland moved into the top 10 by the first checkpoint and increased his pace towards the finish to finish fifth.
“It was quite a fast stage all-in-all, I think the average speeds were quite high today. I made a small mistake near the beginning, where I struggled to find one waypoint, but I don’t think I lost too much time. After that I was able to push on and found a good rhythm in the faster sections. For most of the day I was riding alone, I had to pass four of five guys, but after that it was just me versus the stage. The wind made things very tricky as it was hard to see the tracks ahead and you’re always fighting against it, which makes things even more tiring. Overall, I’ve had a good day.”
Xavier De Soultrait was top Husqvarna in sixth, ahead of Franco Caimi. Daniel Sanders (KTM Factory Racing) was eighth fastest for the day 11m22s off leading pace.
Franco Caimi bounced back from a challenging Stage Two in fine style, setting a competitive pace from the start of the 403-kilometre special, the Argentine passing each checkpoint comfortably inside the top 10.
“I’m happy to have completed stage three. It was a fast stage, so making up time was difficult, but I’m pleased to have clawed back some of the time lost yesterday. Starting in 31st and riding through dust was difficult early on but I kept pushing and finished seventh, so this is good for me. I’m happy with my riding and my bike so the focus is now on the days ahead and catching up to the leading riders.”
Once again showing impressive consistency for a Dakar rookie, Sanders took care with his navigation and steadily improving his road book skills, while showing great speed.
“Not a bad day for me today, I had a few crashes on the dunes early on and then racing through the tracks and canyons I made a couple of small mistakes with the road book. At the end it was nice and fast, which suits me, and I was able to catch some of the guys in front. I think I put in a good time today with no dramas, and the bike was perfect all day again, too. It’s only day three, so there’s plenty more to come.”
Aussies Michael Burgess finished the stage in 38th, while countryman Joseph Houlihan completed the stage in 68th.
Laia Sanz successfully finished the 629-kilometer stage, feeling increasingly settled aboard her GASGAS RC 450F following her prolonged pre-event lay-off with illness, Laia continues to build her confidence having finished 26th.
“It was another good day for me – like yesterday I was able to find a rhythm that I was happy with and I avoided any errors. Trying to not make any big mistakes and to ride consistently is my goal. We are only a few days into the race at the moment, and there will be a lot of difficult days ahead, so it is important to take things step-by-step. It was a fast stage today, but everything went ok. It will be another long day on the bike tomorrow, so my plan will again be to ride at a good pace and focus on avoiding problems.”
Price now fourth in overall standings
Overall rankings after Stage Three has American Skyler Howes in the lead, closely followed by Kevin Benavides (+33s) and Xavier De Soultrait in third.
Toby Price is just outside the top three (+1m52s) marking an impressive turn-around from finishing Stage Two in 15th, trimming down that 17m39s gap considerably, to tank ahead of teammate Sam Sunderland (+5m25s).
Ross Branch now sits sixth, Luciano Benavides seventh, with Joan Barreda, Adrian Van Beveren and Jose Cornejo Florimo completing the top-ten.
For Daniel Sanders his ranking in the general standing improves to 16th, 16m46s off the overall lead. Fellow Australians Burgess now sits 41st overall and Houlihan 69th.
Leaving Wadi Ad-Dawasir and heading for Riyadh, Wednesday’s Stage Four of the 2021 Dakar Rally is the longest of the event at 813 km. The 337 km timed special will be made up primarily of rough, sandy tacks and looks to be less challenging navigation-wise. Riders can’t relax too much however as any mistakes here will be punished severely on time. It is expected to be a day with less complex navigation on fast tracks where the riders will be able to really let rip.
Contaminated fuel cause of Andrew Short’s bike issues in Stage Two
It’s been confirmed that Andrew Short’s exit from the 2021 Dakar during Stage Two was due to contaminated fuel, with the bike inspected upon its return to the bivouac. Significant water was found in both the fuel tank and fuel pump. The same issue to a lesser extent was discovered in team-mate Franco Caimi’s tank.
With fuel supplied by organisers the Monster Energy Yamaha Team requested to the FIM that Short’s results be frozen at Checkpoint 2, allowing him to start Stage Three. The request was rejected and, as a result, Short will play no further part in the 2021 Dakar Rally.
The fuel tanks of all the team’s bikes were drained and new fuel pumps fitted.
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager
“I am sad and disappointed for Andrew. He has put so much time and energy into preparing for the Dakar Rally, his first with the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, and we had high hopes of him fighting at the front coming into the event. Andrew was given fuel from a new fuel can at the second refuelling stop on Stage 2 yesterday and this fuel was obviously contaminated with water, which ended up in his fuel tank. To see him forced out of the rally, after a massive amount of preparation work by both him and the team, by something that was completely outside of our control is incredibly frustrating. As the contaminated fuel was supplied by the organisers, we submitted a request to the FIM to freeze the results at Checkpoint 2, which would have allowed Andrew to start today, but this request was rejected. It’s disappointing for everyone, but the race continues and now we need to focus on our four remaining riders, all of whom are doing a great job. This year we are really part of the game and we will continue to push until the end.”
2021 Dakar Rally Stage Three Results (Provisional)
|1||T. PRICE||AUS||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:00:00=|
|2||K. BENAVIDES||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:01:16=|
|3||M. WALKNER||AUT||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:02:36=|
|4||S. HOWES||USA||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||00:06:16=|
|5||S. SUNDERLAND||GBR||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:08:24=|
|6||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING||00:08:50=|
|7||F. CAIMI||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||00:10:04=|
|8||D. SANDERS||AUS||KTM FACTORY TEAM||00:11:22▲|
|9||R. GONCALVES||PRT||SHERCO FACTORY||00:12:19▼|
|10||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:13:09=|
|11||M. GIEMZA||POL||ORLEN TEAM||00:14:11▲|
|12||L. BENAVIDES||ARG||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||00:14:36▼|
|13||L. SANTOLINO||ESP||SHERCO FACTORY||00:14:56▲|
|14||J. MCCANNEY||GBR||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||00:15:27=|
|15||O. MENA||ESP||FN SPEED – RIEJU TEAM||00:15:57▲|
|16||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||00:16:22▼|
|17||R. BRANCH||BWA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||00:16:24=|
|18||J. RODRIGUES||PRT||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||00:16:28=|
|19||M. MICHEK||CZE||ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||00:17:03=|
|20||J. BRABEC||CZE||STROJRENT RACING||00:17:07=|
|21||S. BÜHLER||DEU||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||00:18:03=|
|22||S. SVITKO||SVK||SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM||00:18:14▲|
|23||P. QUINTANILLA||CHL||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||00:19:15▼|
|24||J. BETRIU||ESP||FN SPEED – KTM TEAM||00:19:38=|
|25||R. BRABEC||USA||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:21:39▲|
|38||M. BURGESS||AUS||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||00:38:45=|
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Standings – After Stage Three (Provisional)
|3||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HUSQVARNA||12:06:16||+0:01:28|
|8||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||HONDA||12:13:50||+0:09:02|
|9||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||YAMAHA||12:13:57||+0:09:09|
|10||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||HONDA||12:14:12||+0:09:24|
|11||L. SANTOLINO||ESP||SHERCO FACTORY||12:14:48||+0:10:00|
|22||R. GONCALVES||PRT||SHERCO FACTORY||12:41:29||+0:36:41|
|23||J. PEDRERO GARCIA||ESP||KTM||12:42:47||+0:37:59|
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|