The Super Marathon stage wrapped up with Monster Energy Honda Team riders scooping a fine haul of results. The 414-kilometre Neom loop proved to be a rewarding one for the crew who achieved the best stage CP times over the course of a lengthy and arduous special. The stage took place amid slippery gravel-filled mountain tracks connected by a breakneck high-speed section of off-piste racing through a valley. The navigation proved particularly taxing, but Brabec, Cornejo and Benavides were up to the task, giving Honda a podium lock-out at the end of the stage.

Ricky Brabec: “Today was actually really fun.”

Earlier this morning, riders once again received the ready-to-use roadbooks just minutes before the race-start, but this was no impediment to Ricky Brabec, as the American Monster Energy Honda Team rider let rip on the Honda CRF450 RALLY registering the best times at the various waypoints of the special before reaching the goal back in Neom. The Californian now leads in the general standings.

Ricky Brabec: “Today was actually really fun. The train was really epic. There were a lot of rocks, lots of stones, a lot of sand, and a lot of tricky navigation. It was really fast, which is what I really prefer. I had a good starting position today. I started a little bit back in twelfth position. I didn’t have too much dust. I past the first rider at kilometre 20. I knew today I could push. It was difficult. Every note that I thought was difficult I slowed down and took my time. I was pushing all day. We had three short specials. I was riding really well and I felt really good today. The roadbook is really good. The information here is really, really nice here. Tomorrow will be tricky. It’s always difficult opening because you have all the riders pushing behind you.”

José Ignacio Cornejo: “It was a long stage, but an entertaining and complicated one.”

José Ignacio Cornejo was also feeling at ease on this third stage of the rally in Saudi Arabia. Improving his skills as each day goes by, the Chilean made it home with the second best time of the day, less than six minutes behind Ricky Brabec.

José Ignacio Cornejo: “It went well today. It was a long stage, but an entertaining and complicated one. There were some very complicate areas for the navigation. It went well with a good pace, without making any mistakes but clocking up good partial times. In general, it was a very good day. I moved up a few positions in the overall standings. I felt really good and was comfortable with the bike. So I’m very pleased with the performance.”

Kevin Benavides: “Today was a very nice stage, but a complicated one for the navigation.”

Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides climbs positions on the 2020 Dakar overall leader board to second place, just 4’43 shy of his team-mate after a notable showing in the day’s tricky special where he took third place on the podium.

Kevin Benavides: “Today was a very nice stage, but a complicated one for the navigation. I started from fourth place. I caught up with the riders ahead and after I separated from the group and then I opened the way. I had a problem with one of the waypoints at kilometre 392. The roadbook was correct but the waypoint wasn’t there. I arrived there before all the other riders so I lost more time. After that the other riders arrived and we rode together in a group. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with the job done today. I felt very good on the bike. The navigation went really well. I will keep pushing ahead.” (source: hrc)

Overall Provisional Classification after stage 3
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 10:39:04
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 10:43:47
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 10:45:06
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 10:50:06
5. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 10:50:23

STORY: Toby Price Tops Dakar Stage 5 – Sam Sunderland Injured
STORY: Sunderland Takes Overall Rally Lead With Runner-Up Finish On Dakar Stage Two
INTERVIEW With Ricky Brabeck: “In rally everything can change. But what really matters is who crosses the line first.”

LINK: Rally Dakar

photos (c) Honda Racing Corporation