Stage 12 of the 2020 Dakar Rally marked the final day of racing, with riders covering a total of 447 kilometres, including a timed special of 374 kilometres from Haradh to the finish at Qiddiya. Ricky Brabec led the overall standings by a comfortable 13min-56s from Pablo Quintanilla into the day, while Toby Price was 22min-34s off leading pace.
Monster Energy Honda Team ace Brabec had snatched the leader’s spot on day three and refused to relinquish the top spot until the race wrapped up, two stage victories and 5000 kilometres later.
It was Pablo Quintanilla opening the track from Toby Price, with just 8min-30s separating the two, while Ricky Brabec seemed to be playing it safe with his lead, with teammate Kevin Benavides reportedly stopping and waiting for him.
Jose Cornejo set the pace in the first 69 km, with Brabec not far off, before Brabec upping the pace and taking the lead by km 119.
The final timesheet of the stage would see Jose Cornejo take the win from Brabec, who trailed him by 53-seconds, while Toby Price was 2min-53s off Stage winning pace.
Luciano Benavides was fourth, and Pablo Quintanilla fifth, Kevin Benavides sixth and top Sherco Adrien Metge in seventh, followed by top Yamaha in eigth. Macieg Giemza and Andrew Short completed the top 10.
Aussie Rodney Faggotter completed the final stage just outside the top-10 in 22nd, 9min-33s off leading pace.
The final standings would see Ricky Brabec retain most of the lead he held into the final stage, taking the overall win by 40h-2min-36s, with Pablo Quintanilla runner up, 16min-26s in arrears.
Ricky Brabec – P1
“It’s a dream come true. Hopefully we can come back next year and repeat it. I know that it’s not going to be easy as the Husky and KTM boys will be breathing down our necks. I’m really excited to be here for Honda and for America as well. To be the only American to accomplish this goal is amazing. I think it’s really a dream come true. Now we’ve got to set our goals higher and accomplish more. We are going to come back next year and try and repeat this but, as I said, it’s not easy. We are happy. It was a big, tough race. A lot of kilometres. The team worked great together. The riders were good and the whole team worked well together so I’m really happy. The bikes were really good. We are all here. We are all happy and safe. That was the first goal. I can’t thank everyone enough – Honda, Monster and every one of the sponsors behind us. Thank you all so much. It’s the first time in Saudi Arabia. The scenery was insane! I love it. Hopefully I’ll be back next year. I’ve got a five-year contract so I think we’ll be back.”
Pablo Quintanilla – P2
“I feel amazing. To spend most of 2019 in recovery and now to be here with my best ever result makes me extremely grateful. I never thought that I would be in this position at the beginning of the race. I would like to thank the team for their hard work over these two weeks – they have done an amazing job. Overall, my race has gone really well, it’s been a tough event for everybody, and the main goal was always to reach the finish. A podium at the Dakar is like a dream come true, especially after such a hard one this year. I still want that win so I’ll work hard and be back next year.”
Australian Toby Price was third overall, 24min-06s off winning pace, with Jose Cornejo in fourth and KTM’s Matthias Walkner completing the top five.
Toby Price – P3
“I’m really happy with another podium at the Dakar – every time I’ve made it to the finish at this event I’ve got onto the podium. So far, I’m either a number one or a number three guy. The most important thing is to be here safely at the finish. Obviously, we came here to win, but it just wasn’t our year. Yeah, after 18 wins in a row it would have been nice to get a 19th, but I think KTM’s winning streak won’t be topped for a very long time. We’ll go away now, regroup and come back stronger for 2021 and take that number one plate back.”
José Ignacio Cornejo – P4
Today’s stage was short but intense. I battled it out with Walkner and Luciano Benavides. They started out in front of me, so I started the special very focused, trying to reduce the time. In the end I didn’t make any mistakes and was able to win the final stage of the Dakar, and thus finish fourth in the general standings. I’m very happy with the way the entire rally went. The team has finally achieved the victory we were looking for after so many years. I’m very happy with the whole team, they have worked so hard.
Matthias Walkner – P5
“Firstly, it feels really good to cross the finish line, especially after such a fast Dakar in a new country. For sure, I’m not so happy with my result as my goal was to reach the podium. I know I made some mistakes in the first week where I lost some time, and it was very difficult to make that back up – especially as so many riders were competitive this year. The good thing is, I felt good with my speed and my navigation for most of the rally. Unfortunately, even with 11 good days, one bad day can spoil your race in rallying. Overall, I’m happy because I know I did my best and the team and the bike have been perfect.”
In sixth was Luciano Benavides, followed by Joan Barreda in seventh, with Franco Caimi the top Yamaha in eighth. Skyler Howes took ninth and Andrew Short 10th.
Luciano Benavides – P6
“It’s been a really tough Dakar and a very crazy race with lots of ups and downs. Overall, I have really enjoyed it and I’m happy to be here at the finish line. I knew this year would be a big challenge and would be a new experience for everyone, so my plan was to take it day by day and the main goal was always just to finish safely. I’m very happy with my pace, I have learnt so much and was able to really use that knowledge at this year’s event. So many riders were competitive, with times very close on a lot of the stages, so to come away with sixth overall is great. I’m really looking forward to the coming season now.”
Joan Barreda – P7
“This was a Dakar that from the beginning was really tough for me. I spent a few days with some great difficulties, but little by little I began pulling back and picking up pace. I had a bit of bad luck with the cancellation of the two stages and the change of engine also penalized me. But in the end the good feelings came back. We have to stay positive but despite all the difficulties, I have finished another Dakar.”
Franco Caimi – P8
“It’s a huge relief to finally arrive at the finish of this year’s Dakar Rally. It’s been a really rough two weeks that we have passed through with many different challenges to overcome. Thankfully, we did overcome everything and today we arrived at the finish. The whole team has worked so, so hard, not just during this Dakar but during the whole year. Obviously, I wish Adrien and Xavier all the best for a fast recovery and will now take some time to enjoy this moment and reflect on the event. I’m pleased to have finished, especially after two years of not finishing. It’s been a real adventure and I’m also pleased with some strong stage results. Now it’s time for some rest and then to make plans for the season ahead.”
Andrew Short – P10
“I’m really happy to get to the end of this year’s Dakar – it’s been a long race, good fun, but very tough for me, I had a lot of challenges. The first week in the north was beautiful – I’ve never raced anywhere like it. I had some issues in those first few days that really put me on the back foot for the rest of the event. It took a lot out of me as you prepare all year for this race and to have such a big knock so early on was tough. This is only my third Dakar and I’m still learning. A two-week event like this is certainly different to a one-week world championship event and you have to be able to gauge your speed the whole way through. I definitely want to be back here next year for Dakar 2021.”
Top overall Sherco rider was Adrien Metge in 12th, while Australian Rodney Faggotter (Yamaha Motor Australia) came home in 13th.
Rodney Faggotter – P13
“Wow its done! Top 20’s most stages, with a career best of sixth in stage 10 for a career best of 13th overall. I had a solid two weeks and rode the most “in control” but also the best I have ever done. The riders in front of me are the best rally riders in the world and most of them full time athletes – I’m pumped to be near and amongst these guys! Two weeks flat out and it comes to a instant stop and now I try get to reflect and appreciate everyone’s support and messages. Instead of going through and saying last but not least – I want to call out to my awesome hot beautiful supportive wife and best friend. Love ya babe!!! Thank you. And my boys Matt and Nate for their support! It’s so hard on family back home following the race especially when you disappear off the charts due to helping at a accident/or a mechanical failure or even just technical timing glitches. Massive shout out to the Dragon Yamaha team and my awesome mechanic Quentin Brossier. He says only a few English words and I say none French – so we get along great! He worked overtime all through the night sometime triple checking and sorting everything and I never had a issue. Thanks bud! Big thank you to Yamaha Motor Australia and Yamaha Motor Finance, Yamaha Motor Insurance Australia without their commitment to assist me this year – I would not have been here full stop. And also a big thanks to fellow competitor Ben Young for helping me get to the start line. So many others that helped or have helped previously – that got me to this point that I so much appreciate. Thanks guys.”
GasGas Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz was the highest placing female competitor, finishing stage 12 in 25th and completing the 2020 Dakar Rally in 18th overall.
Laia Sanz – P18
“I will remember a lot about this Dakar. Of course, I will remember Paulo, a true Dakar warrior. So, I have mixed emotions. I will also remember it because it is the race that I managed to start and finish my 10th consecutive Dakar, this is something I am very proud of. I think I’m the first Spanish rider to do that. Dakar is never easy, but when you have a crash it becomes so much harder. So, I’m pleased that I managed to overcome everything and finish the race, and also to have been the first rider to represent GasGas Motorcycles. It’s not been the best for me in terms of my overall result – after my crash on stage two I was riding in a lot of dust and the average speed was a little too high for me during the second week. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and want to thank all the GasGas Factory Racing team for their support.”
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