KTM’s Sam Sunderland led home the Monster Energy Honda duo of Jose Cornejo and Kevin Benavides in Stage Four of the 2020 Dakar Rally in the provisional results. But Sunderland would later be slapped with a five-minute penalty, which was enough to regulate the KTM rider back to eighth position
This left Jose Cornejo as stage winner from teammate Kevin Benavides, while Ross Branch completed the top three, with only a minute separating the three. Paulo Gonçalves then completed the top four.
José Ignacio Cornejo
“I’m very happy with the stage victory. The truth is that I wasn’t expecting it with Sam’s penalization. I’m really pleased to have achieved my first Dakar stage win. Today was a very long stage, very demanding physically and above all mentally. The first part was very fast where there was practically no time difference between the riders. From the first refuelling, difficult navigation areas began with poorly visible tracks and many tracks on either side. It was quite difficult until I have caught Ricky approximately at kilometre 220 and we helped each other to open the track until the second refuelling. It was a difficult stage where we went through some very beautiful places. I’m very happy with this stage in which we kept a cool head to be able to find the route more easily.”
“Today was a very long day, very physically demanding and quite cold in the morning. The stage began fast and, little by little, the technical areas began to arrive with rocks and hard track where navigation was very difficult. Then came a fairly fast part once again and before the end it was back to another part with a very complicated navigation full of sand and rocks. It was really very nice but a very demanding special. My team-mates did an excellent job opening the track. I followed them closely but I remained a little behind. I am very happy with the pace of today.”
Previous stage winner Ricky Brabec had to settle for fifth, 11-seconds faster than defending champion Toby Price, but it was enough for Brabec to retain his overall lead, while Price moved up the standings into fourth – 12min-9s off the combined lead.
“The day was good. I didn’t have the best starting position. I started first. I was kind of nervous and I thought that I would lose a lot of time today. I’m very happy. I rode in front all day long. Then eventually my team-mate Nacho Cornejo caught up with me. We rode together from maybe kilometre 250 to the finish. We did really well. It was a really long and tiring day for the mind and the body. We are still healthy and the bikes are good and all the riders are still here. We have a couple of days left. We are going to rest and suit up for tomorrow.”
“It’s been a good solid day’s riding for me, I made a few mistakes but nothing major. I don’t want to bash myself up or bend the bike so I’ve just tried to ride consistently and stay in touch with the other guys. We’re still in contention and there’s still a long way to go.”
Stage Four of the Dakar Rally offered a long day in the saddle for riders, who needed to complete a total of 672 kilomtres, including a 453-kilometre timed special, offering a mix of sandy pistes and travel tracks, traveling from Neom through to Al-Ula.
Following the GPS and waypoint issues of the previous stage, Stage Four also saw the the Top-10 separated by just five-minutes, however the combined leaderboard continues to stretch out.
Aussie Rodney Faggotter finished Stage Four in 18th position on his Yamaha Motor Australia mount, 13min-4s off the leader, moving into 17th in the standings.
The overall standings now see Ricky Brabec leading Kevin Benavides by 2min-30s, while a more distant Jose Cornejo is third making a Monster Energy Honda Team 1-2-3. Toby Price and Sam Sunderland complete the top five, as the leading KTM riders, while Pablo Quintanilla is top Husqvarna pilot in sixth.
“Honestly, today was not the best for me. Sometimes it’s like this – you can feel really good or sometimes you struggle a little bit. The stage was really tricky with high speeds and a lot of navigation. We still have many days in front of us and the good thing is I am ok and we have no problems with the bike. I lost some time today but we’re still in the fight and there’s definitely a long way to go and anything can happen.”
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