Closing out the Andalucia Rally, stage four covered a total of 233 kilometers, 210 of which were timed special held on the now familiar dirt tracks of the region. With much of the stage sharing the same route as used on previous days, navigation was less of an issue and riders were able to push harder on the fast, open terrain.
The final day of the 2020 Andalucia Rally has seen Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda Team) win the overall, over seven minutes in front of runner up Adrien Van Beveren (Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team), while Lorenzo Santoli (Sherco TVS Rally Factory) claimed the final podium position.
The final stage however was dominated by Australian Daniel Sanders, who finished seven-seconds in front of fellow Aussie Toby Price, with Jamie McCanney third for the stage.
In what was only his first competitive rally event for the KTM Factory Racing team, Daniel Sanders has shown he is more than capable of delivering accurate navigation and the speed required to mix it with the top rally racers. Just weeks after commencing his road book training, the likeable Aussie has claimed an international rally stage win – an impressive achievement for any rider. In successfully completing the Andalucia Rally – securing 11th place overall – Sanders qualifies for the Dakar Rally in January. His training will now continue over the months leading up to the iconic event.
Daniel Sanders – Stage 4 Winner
“I really enjoyed today, being more familiar with the navigation, I was able to focus more and start to push. I made a few little mistakes, but all through the day there was nothing in it, so I kept my head down and found a nice flow. Honestly, I thought I would place around the top-five mark, so to come away with the stage win feels great. I wasn’t aiming for the win, and definitely didn’t want to try anything stupid, but to go fastest with most of the top guys here is really encouraging. The whole team has worked really hard to fast-track my rally skills, but it looks like it’s paying off and I can’t thank them enough.”
Claiming a provisional fourth overall at the close of racing is perhaps not the result that Toby Price wanted going into the Spanish event. Nevertheless, always one to ride intelligently, the two-time Dakar Champion was pleased with his race pace and navigation. Now, having used the Andalucia Rally to regain his focus and test various new components on his KTM 450 RALLY, Toby looks ahead to Dakar and is confident of a strong result.
Toby Price – P4 Overall
“Today wasn’t too tricky, we followed a lot of the tracks we’d been over earlier in the rally and so navigation wasn’t too much of an issue. I feel good in myself and on the bike and so I was able to push a little harder today. Finishing fourth and missing out on the podium is always a little disappointing, but we’re fit and healthy with no issues and that is always the main goal. We’ve learned a lot and have been able to test a few things so I’m really looking forward to Dakar now.”
Jamie McCanney also recorded a positive end to the Andalucia Rally, claiming third place on the final stage. At the head of the field for much of the day, McCanney frustratingly caught two riders and, without forcing the issue and risking a mistake due to the dust created in front of him, opted to bring home his WR450F Rally home safely. A great conclusion to the rally saw Jamie advance to seventh in the overall standings.
“I’m happy enough with the overall result. Today’s stage was good for me. I think I was leading for a lot of it, but then because I set off 20th – I’m not sure why as I didn’t finish 20th yesterday – I caught up to some riders towards the end and then sat in their dust for 30 or 40 kilometres. It was unfortunate but the safe option. Leaving here healthy and happy with my riding and my Yamaha puts us in good shape ahead of Dakar.”
2020 Andalucia Rally Champion – Kevin Benavides
Kevin Benavides, who held the field in check in the final stage, conceding just 2’48” to the day’s winner, confirmed his position at head of the competition leaderboard. The Monster Energy Honda Team rider ends the race, leaving the nearest overall second-place rider trailing almost eight minutes behind.
Kevin Benavides – P1 Overall
“Today I went out intending to ride a stage with good pace, focusing on not making any mistakes. My elbow bothered me a bit, but as the day went on, it didn’t hurt so much. I think I rode a good final stage to close this race week. I’m very happy with this win: I needed it too. It’s a victory that rewards all the effort we have made. Now, we are going to continue with all the preparations to reach the 2021 Dakar in even better conditions. Thank you very much to the entire team for an exceptional job done every single day and for keeping the bike running perfectly throughout the race.”
Hard work paid off for Adrien Van Beveren at the Andalucia Rally as he enjoyed a mistake-free week of racing to claim second overall. Consistent results on every stage signalled that the Frenchman has returned from injury and is back to his usual, competitive form. With his 2020 Dakar Rally crash and subsequent surgeries well behind him, Van Beveren’s runner-up finish puts him in a positive position for the 2021 rally season.
Adrien Van Beveren – P2 Overall
“It’s been a really good rally for me. All week I have been consistent with no crashes, no navigation or speed zone issues, so it’s great to see that my training has paid off. I’m happy with the direction that I’m going in and will keep working hard towards the Dakar Rally. I’m so happy to be back to my old self and on the podium. A great result for myself and the team.”
In third place, taking his first podium racing against the cream of rally-raid riders, was the Spaniard Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco TVS Factory).
“Yes super happy to finish third here. Maybe the fact that I am Spanish and we were racing on Spanish soil was good for me but it is nevertheless important for my confidence going into the Dakar. The team has been working hard to develop the bike and it went really well here, so many thanks to them.”
The 2021 Dakar Rally to be held in Saudi Arabia from January 3 to 15 will be the next event for many competitors.
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