It was all smiles from Ricky Brabec as he rode into Riyadh after the longest pre-rest day special of the 2020 Dakar Rally. The rider will be able to rest and recuperate before heading back out aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY to defend his overall leadership in the second and final week of the competition. The American Monster Energy Honda Team rider bagged the win in the sixth stage, for a second victory in the event, strengthening his position at the head of the general rankings with a twenty plus-minute advantage over the nearest second place rival.

Ricky Brabec continues his Dakar 2020 crusade with another stage triumph, the second of this edition, consolidating his leadership as the new Dakar – held in Saudi Arabia – arrives at its rest day in the capital Riyadh.

Ricky Brabec: “The day was good. I didn’t really have a strategy. I wanted to catch Andrew Short who started in front of me and I did just that. I rode with him all day. It was very unfortunate for Toby because he had a wheel mishap at maybe kilometre 330. I rode to the end and now we have a rest day and I have a 20-minute lead in the general and that’s really awesome. It’s really nice knowing that. I can’t really believe it. It’s incredible. So now we are going to get some rest and recoup and refresh and get ourselves together ready for the next six days in Saudi Arabia. I’m more excited that we are here in warm weather than I am at being here for the rest day. I hate being cold. I have three layers on right now but it’s warmer and I’m liking it. Nacho’s riding really well. He’s a great team-mate and a great-camper mate. The problem with Toby is going to set him on fire next week, so we have to be careful next week. Hopefully we can stay ahead of him. I won the stage today so I have to lead out. Hopefully I can lead out well. So we will rest and put our things together and hope for a good day.”

Joan Barreda turned out a fine showing in the special, looking more at ease on the bike, on terrain which is increasing to the Spaniard’s liking. Today’s second position on the day reaffirms Barreda’s place among the contenders for a finish among the prize-winners and now occupies fifth place in the overall standings.

Joan Barreda: “Today I am very happy after the problems I have had recently which I’ve been trying to save something from the stages and have been trying to get the good sensations back. The truth is that I felt much better today and I kept a good pace but I also tried to focus on not making any navigational errors. I tried to regulate the pace as it was very fast throughout the day. I much prefer the dunes, which is what I’m most used to. I don’t remember a race with so many days running over rocky terrain. But well we are making positive progress which is the important thing.”

2018 Dakar Champion Matthias Walkner put in a superb ride, maintaining a strong pace throughout the long desert stage to ultimately place third fastest, less than three minutes down on the stage winner. In keeping to a solid yet consistent speed, the Austrian was able to move through the field without making any mistakes. Going into Saturday’s rest day, Matthias lies sixth overall in the provisional overall standings.

Matthias Walkner: “It was a very intense stage today – very long and maybe 80 percent full gas the whole way. It was tough both physically and mentally and I’m glad of the rest day tomorrow. My pace was good today, I felt comfortable and didn’t make any mistakes. With the first half of the rally done I think we are in good shape – everyone is really fast this year and it’s going to be close. The goal, as always, is to make it safely to the end, so hopefully I’ll have a good second half to the rally.”

The rally continues on Sunday with the 741-kilometre stage seven to Wadi Al Dawasir.

Provisional Standings (after stage six) – 2020 Dakar Rally
1. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 23:43:47
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 24:04:43 +20:56
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 24:09:26 +25:39
4. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 24:09:28 +25:41
5. Joan Barreda (ARG), Honda, 24:16:45 +32:58

STORY: Pablo Quintanilla Wins Dakar Rally Stage Nine
STORY: Andrew Short & Pablo Quintanilla Set For Week Two At 2020 Dakar Rally
STORY: Toby Price Tops Dakar Stage 5 – Sam Sunderland Injured And Forced To Abandon The Race

LINK: Rallye Dakar

photos (c) HRC & Rally Zone & Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool