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ADV NewsWatch Dakar 2020 Recap: American Ricky Brabec Takes Historic Win

Watch Dakar 2020 Recap: American Ricky Brabec Takes Historic Win

 Daily stage updates and video recaps of the Dakar Rally 2020.

Published on 01.17.2020

January 10, 2020: STAGE 6

• Total distance covered: 830 km

The menu for stage 6 gave the riders an uninterrupted taste of sand. No villages and not even a river, just plenty of dunes and camels from the start in Ha’il.

Ricky Brabec continues to show impressive form, reinforcing his domination of the rally with another stage victory before the rest day. As in 2019 in Peru, Brabec has done an impeccable job in Saudi Arabia to lead the rally at the half-way point increasing his lead over Chilean Pablo Quintanilla to over 20 minutes.

Ricky Brabec has won his second stage this year and reaches the rest day leading the general standings, but is not getting carried away about his chances for the title. He was in the same position last year before disaster struck!

Ricky Brabec: “The stage was good. It was actually a really long stage with 477 km of racing. We still have 200 km of highways to get to the rest day. But today was a big day. Today was our first day in the sand – our first day of 100% sand, so it’s pretty good. I’m excited to have made it here. I’m excited to have made it to the top in the general standings. Like I said earlier, there’s six days left of racing; so a lot can happen, but for right now, we’re going to go and get some rest, we’re going to see what happens with the results today and try to plan something for the day after the rest day. Unfortunately for him Toby was riding really well today, but he had a problem with his rear wheel, I’m not exactly sure what, but I’m thinking the mousse-tube got too hot and started disintegrating, so he’s out there right now with Andrew. I was riding with Andrew… that was my goal today, to catch Andrew. He started one position ahead of me, so my goal was to catch Andrew and ride with him all day. I rode with him most of the day and we had a lot of fun out there. He’s with Toby right now assessing the situation, I think, so we’ll see what happens. The first week was really awesome. The terrain was sweet. It was tough navigation but the road-book is incredibly good. We’re getting the road-book on the morning of the special, but we’re still going just as fast as if we got it the night before. I really like the system with the road-book in the morning, but next week after the rest day, I’m really looking forward to more racing with everybody, having fun, but most of all I want to get more rocky terrain, kind of how the first week was. I’ve heard there’s maybe a day or a day and a half of some rocks, so I’m looking forward to it”.

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Defending champion Toby Price, 25 minutes behind Brabec, suffered a sudden loss of his rear wheel costing him precious time during the stage. Thankfully, Andrew Short came to his rescue, offering his rear wheel to Price so he could keep his chance for the podium alive. Price revealed: “Unfortunately around the 400km mark my rear tire fell off! I have no idea why this would have happened but I’m super grateful that Andrew Short pulled up and gave me his wheel which allowed me to get to the finish as quick as possible so thank you again for this mate! Overall I’m pretty gutted that this is how we finished up today but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes!”

Toby Price finishes the stage after borrowing a tire from Andrew Short. | Photo: Flavien Duhamel

For Andrew Short, this meant a long ride to the finish without a rear tire, relying solely on the his bike’s rim. “Stage 6 was a day a won’t ever forget! Started third bike and had a rad day for most of it. Rode really good and fast all day until kilometer 400 where Toby needed a wheel. With me being an hour down I did the quick math with where I knew everyone was at around me and I made a decision I thought was best for everyone involved. Rode 77 kilometers on the rim to finish the special and another 114 on the pavement to the first service area on the liason. It was a wild ride! I’m a bit bummed headed into the rest day. I showed up very well prepared and have the speed I believe but this year wasn’t my year. I hope to finish the second week strong, have good stages, and do my best like always. I had a lot of fun riding with Ricky today as well.”

Andrew Short finishes stage 6 without a rear tire.

In turn, Joan Barreda has finally gotten a podium position in a Dakar 2020 stage, finishing 2nd and moving to 5th overall behind Jose Ignacio Cornejo.

Ross Brach had another day full of chanllenges yet managed to cross the finish after riding a considerable part of the stage with a flat tire. The man from Botswana lost 2 hours and 24 due to this mishap.

A CRUSHING BLOW

Once again this year, Kevin Benavides held all the cards in the quest to triumph on the Dakar for the first time. The Argentinean started the morning in third place in the general standings and has been ultra-consistent in an edition marked by tricky navigation, achieving four finishes in the top 4 on five stages. However, it was not the man who came up short just before the rest day, but his machine. The high performance of his Honda was once again let down by its reliability, due to a broken engine forty kilometres before the finish. Following a pre-race injury in 2017, a navigational disaster in 2018 and a heavy penalty in 2019, Benavides is once again out of the reckoning for overall victory.

Sharing a day of bad news, Sherco rider Johnny Aubert will not complete his third Dakar. The former enduro champion had almost reached the rest day when a bad fall resulted in injuries to his head and ribs that prompted his evacuation from the special by a medical team.

Stage 6 Top 10 Motorcycle Rankings


January 9, 2020: STAGE 5

Total distance covered: 564 km

With the Rest Day in Riyadh now just one day away, we’re witnessing world class off-roaders going full speed at the 42nd edition of the world’s toughest rally. On leaving Al Ula this morning, the riders threw themselves into a genuine exercise of dexterity. Over 150 kilometres, the mainly sandy terrain forced them to be extremely watchful due to several rocky sections. They then reached the high plateau of Jabal Sammar at an altitude of almost 1,500 metres, where in fact the hills to be tackled were often a series of tricky steps to be climbed.

Four days after his victory on the opening stage of the Dakar, Toby Price did it again with style. The title holder beat the Husqvarnas ridden by Pablo Quintanilla and Andrew Short, taking advantage of the problems encountered by Kevin Benavides and Jose Ignacio Cornejo who couldn’t keep up with the pace. The two-time Dakar winner has sprung up the leaderboard to second and now trails leader Ricky Brabec.

Toby Price takes stage 5 | Photo: A.S.O. / Dakar

“It’s been a good day. I pushed hard at the start, made some good ways and by then I caught up with the Honda boys. Ricky and them were in front, but, yeah, it’s been a good stage. It’s actually the first time I’ve ridden with a whole big group, so it was quite enjoyable, but at the end of the day they are competitive so we need to stay in front of them. We’re happy with the day and we’ll see how day six goes now… I think that’s what we’re up to… I’m starting to lose count of it all”.

Ricky Brabec has ridden with control on the fifth stage to only concede 3 minutes to the day’s winner Toby Price, meaning he leads the Australian by 9 minutes in the general standings whilst Kevin Benavides has dropped back to 11 minutes behind.


Ricky Brabec: “I don’t know anything about Sam… The stage was a lot of HP and a lot of sand dune style riding. Not necessarily sand dunes, but sandy… I caught up with the group and we kind of rode together for most of the day, it was really fun. Toby had a little get off back there, but he’s alright and we’re at the finish. The group was together I’d say for most of the day, after the refuelling. The race is really close. Toby made a few minutes on me, I caught Kevin today… I don’t know – tomorrow could be tricky. We’ll have to see what happens”.

Seventh on the day’s special, Ross Branch finished the stage in the company of Price, Brabec and Benavides. The rider from Botswana is continuing his apprenticeship on the Dakar.

“The days are getting better. My shoulder is still quite sore, so I’m just trying to look after that and keep the speed up. Today was good. The navigation wasn’t as bad as it was yesterday, though the off-piste was really, really hard today, so I tried to hang on to the top four guys and just see what they did through there and try and learn a bit from them. All in all, it was a good day.”

Unfortunately big crashes have been notoriously frequent in this Dakar edition. Today was a lucky day for Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team rider Johnny Aubert who had a big wipe out but was able to finish the stage in 16th position.

https://twitter.com/dakar/status/1215220936531726336

A CRUSHING BLOW

Looking set to put in a good performance on the way to Ha’il, Sam Sunderland’s ride came to a brutal halt after 188 km of the fifth stage. With injuries to his back and left shoulder following a severe fall, the Englishman has had to exit the Dakar prematurely for the fifth time out of 7 participations. One of KTM’s best chances of victory thus leaves the rally.

“The pain of a crash is nothing compared to the pain of disappointment, unfortunately my race is over after a crash today at kilometre 180, While fighting for the stage win and feeling like everything was under control, I caught a camel grass mound awkwardly putting the bike sideways into the next one and a few 🤸🏻‍♂️🤸🏻‍♂️ later I have 5 broken vertebrae and a shoulder blade but luckily no surgery is required and should be right again soon! I want to thank my team for building me the best bike I could ever wish for and for everyone around who help out during the good and the bad moments. Good luck to my team mates for the rest of the race, put an orange one on the top step! Thank you all for your words of support during the race they help a lot! 💪🏻👊🏻 Also I want to thank @johnnyaubertofficial for stopping to help me when I was crashed 👊🏻🙌🏻” – Sam Sunderland

View this post on Instagram

The pain of a crash is nothing compared to the pain of disappointment, unfortunately my race is over after a crash today at kilometre 180, While fighting for the stage win and feeling like everything was under control, I caught a camel grass mound awkwardly putting the bike sideways into the next one and a few 🤸🏻‍♂️🤸🏻‍♂️ later I have 5 broken vertebrae and a shoulder blade but luckily no surgery is required and should be right again soon! I want to thank my team for building me the best bike I could ever wish for and for everyone around who help out during the good and the bad moments. Good luck to my team mates for the rest of the race, put an orange one on the top step! Thank you all for your words of support during the race they help a lot! 💪🏻👊🏻 Also I want to thank @johnnyaubertofficial for stopping to help me when I was crashed 👊🏻🙌🏻

A post shared by Sam Sunderland (@sundersam) on

ORIGINAL BY MOTUL CHALLENGES

Previously called the ‘Malle Moto’ category, ‘Original by Motul’ is by far the toughest undertaking in the Dakar, requiring riders be completely autonomous, performing every necessary task, from tire changes to tent setup on their own.

Stage 5 Top 10 Motorcycle Rankings


January 8, 2020: STAGE 4

Total distance covered: 672 km

Departing Neom for Al-ʿUla means leaving behind the city of the future to discover the ancient wonders of the master builders of the Nabatean civilization, who knew how to cut out temples in rocks two millennia ago. The sites peppered with a hundred temples are, of course, out of the reach of the Dakar competitors. However, even getting close to this area has taken a titanic effort. Riding at altitude in the early morning, riders had to overcome the mountain chill, but especially the rocky terrain and a crossing of the Harrat al ‘Uwayrid volcanic region, where any navigation mistakes take a heavy toll. Pictures of the tombs will have to wait.

Today was the first day since the start of the rally in which the lead did not change hands after the stage, with Ricky Brabec still in control. However, the stage win went to his teammate, José Ignacio Cornejo who since signing with the factory Honda team almost by sheer luck three years ago has proved that he deserves a place in HRC. The Chilean continued his progression by claiming his maiden stage win in Al-ʿUla, working together nicely with his teammates Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides to overcome the challenging navigation. These three riders will also stand on the provisional podium of the Dakar this evening.

José Ignacio Cornejo wins stage 4. Photo: A.S.O/Dakar

José Ignacio Cornejo: “The first part was really fast, so it took me 220 or 240 kilometres to catch Ricky. We then took turns opening the track. I think we did a great job, it was physically and mentally exhausting. We won’t be forgetting this stage any time soon because some parts were so rocky that we thought we were going the wrong way.”

Sam Sutherland showed the sort of form that led to his 2017 Dakar title on two wheels, as he set the fastest time on the stage. Despite a five-minute penalty for excessive speed, he finds himself in sixth place after stage four. “I tried to keep a good rhythm until the end, but it was a really difficult stage. Every day is different, but I actually like the new rules and the fact that we don’t have to paint the road books in the evening. It’s just the nature of the route. The canyons yesterday, today there were so many of these big stones that you can’t ride straight cap. It’s cool that there’s a big variance, it’s like a big adventure each day, which is how I guess it should be.”

Sunderland’s teammate and title holder, Toby Price, seems to be sticking to his plan and waiting for the second week of racing. The reigning champion is still in fourth place overall, 12 minutes behind the American leader, Ricky Brabec. “We had a couple of little mistakes just before the second neutralisation. Then we had a couple of little mistakes here at the end as well, but all in all, the day’s been really consistent. We haven’t lost too much time to the guys, so we’re still in contention and still right there. We’re in good shape.”

But it was a bad day at the office for Joan Barreda, who took a tumble and had to ride the rest of the stage with a damaged Honda and rib pain. This has caused the Spaniard to plummet down the general classification after conceding 17 minutes today.

Surprisingly after a bad fall yesterday, Ross Branch produced a solid performance today, finishing third and less than a minute shy of what could have been his second stage win.

Elsewhere in the bike class, Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders Luciano Benavides and Matthias Walkner are in the top 10, while Laia Sanz’s aspirations of once again being the leading female rider were boosted as she climbed into the top-25 overall.

Another crushing blow for Yamaha

Just one day after teammate Adrien Van Beveren tumbled out of the race in a spectacular crash, today was Xavier de Soultrait‘s turn to throw in the towel and forget about standing on the final podium in Qiddiya. Still hurting from a crash near the end of stage 3 that left him with several stitches and a bruised right wrist (damaged nerve), the Frenchman soldiered on for 300 km on the way to Al-ʿUla before giving up. It is a serious blow for Yamaha, which have lost their two best riders in a few days.

Stage 4 Top 10 Motorcycle Rankings


January 7, 2020: STAGE 3

Total distance covered: 504 km

On day 3 the competitors were summoned for what seemed like a journey through time on the loop around Neom. The fast tracks in the first 100 kilometres mostly led competitors on a slalom between the giant rocks of Wadi ash Sharmah that give the impression they have been there since the dawn of time. In the final section, the rocky terrain required the utmost caution from all the competitors.

Each day has seen a new winner and new boss on the Dakar. The third stage smiled upon the impressive Ricky Brabec who wanted to make a statement of intent on the loop around Neom and rose to the challenge seamlessly. Despite tricky terrain and difficult navigation, the American methodically left his rivals in his wake to triumph with a big lead over the rest of the pack, allowing him to take command of the rally.

Ricky Brabec wins stage 3. Photo ASO / D. Bairros

After getting lost looking for a way-point on the last part of the special, Toby Price has lost the advantage he had accrued thanks to a good start to the stage. The title holder has finished more than 8 minutes behind Brabec who along with Cornejo and Benavides took the 3 top spots for Honda on today’s stage.

Now third overall six minutes behind Brabec, 33-year-old Walkner revealed: “They want to make the rally difficult, but maybe this was a bit too far. You need to spend so much time looking at the roadbook and this means that in all the sand you can miss a big stone.”

Ross Branch, yesterday’s stage winner had a day he would like to forget, after a fall that left him with an injured shoulder. In spite of the injury he was finally able to reach the finishing line, albeit with gritted teeth more than 1 hour behind today’s winner.

https://twitter.com/dakar/status/1214473388389027846

A crushing blow
The Dakar is truly not kind to Adrien Van Beveren. After withdrawals from the last two editions when he was in the reckoning for the title, the Frenchman has again left the rally prematurely on the evening of the third stage. In fact, the special only lasted 4 kilometres for the man who has won the Enduropale du Touquet many times, after a high-speed crash that left him with a broken shoulder and bruising on his right eye. It is a crushing blow for a rider who has made the Dakar his number 1 goal in recent years and who has been the leading hope of the Yamaha team on the rally.

A bad day for Yamaha

For fellow Yamaha rider, Xavier Soultrait, the last kilometers of the stage must have felt like a genuine ordeal, who arrived at the bivouac with a nasty injury to his wrist. A black day indeed for the Yamaha team whose two leading riders have been injured. “I rode a really great special and did a good job. However, after 350 km, I fell at about 15 kmph, but when I put my hands out to soften the fall I cut my arm. I had to cobble together a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. I’m afraid that the stitches are going to be painful, because I don’t like that sort of thing. I wanted to be in a good position each day and treat the first week as a way of placing myself for the second one. I’m still on target with that objective”.

Stage 3 Top 10 Motorcycle Rankings


January 6, 2020: STAGE 2

Total distance covered: 393 km

Monday’s second stage moved up Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastline a further 400km north as they left behind Al Wajh and sped towards Neom over the 367km route. On their journey towards the north of the country, they especially traveled from valley to valley, with navigational decisions to be made at all times, which even left some of the most experienced crews dizzy.

Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI Media

Defending bike champion Toby Price started the race by winning the first stage on Sunday, however the Australian was way off the pace on Monday as Botswana-born rider Ross Branch held off Sunderland to capture stage two as a privateer KTM entrant, giving Botswana its first victory on the rally.

Price, 32, revealed: “I made a little navigation mistake at 60km and Ricky (Brabec), who was behind me, did the same thing. There’s been some changes to the roadbook that we’re all having to wrap our heads around quick.”

After several impressive showings on his first Dakar in 2019, Ross Branch picked up his first stage victory by catching his rivals one by one on the way to Neom. This win is surely the start of more to come and at the finishing line he beat the new leader of the general standings, Sam Sunderland.

Briton Sunderland came in second to propel him into the overall lead from Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla with Argentine Kevin Benavides third and 2018 champion Matthias Walkner fourth as Price plummeted down the standings to lie ninth for Red Bull KTM Factory Team.

https://twitter.com/dakar/status/1214122664102633472

Sadly Bolivian Daniel Nosiglia was forced out injured from this year’s race as the Honda rider fell 141km into the special with the ‘Super Marathon Stage’ rule in place that restricts elite riders to just 10 minutes of maintenance work at the end of the day.

It has also been a stage Laia Sanz would like to forget, who suffered a fall at the beginning of today’s special and lost 20 minutes; finishing 38th overall.

Stat of the day
With the best time on the stage finishing in Neom, Ross Branch became the first stage winner from Botswana but also the 6th representative of the African continent to taste stage triumph on the Dakar. In the history of the bike category, the most successful competitor has been South African Alfie Cox with a sequence of 8 specials between 1999 and 2003, whilst Franco-Malian Alain Duclos won in his hometown of Bamako in 2006, then again in 2014 in Argentina.

Quote of the day
Sam Sunderland: “It’s the Super Marathon stage, so we have to try and take care of the bike the best we can. I used the rear brake quite a lot today and I just wanted to change the pads just to be safe for tomorrow. It was a really difficult day, really long with big variations in terrain and navigation, from high speed to really slow and technical, in and out of the canyons with a lot of tracks that were less visible… It’s really difficult, really difficult so far”.

Stage 2 Top 10 Motorcycle Rankings


January 5, 2020: STAGE 1

Total distance covered: 752 km

The 2020 Dakar Rally kicked off the first-ever race to be held in Saudi Arabia on Sunday as 342 vehicles took off on the opening stage, racing 752km from Jeddah to Al Wajh. It was a pre-sunrise start for the Dakar convoy, as the bikes set off first on the desert route to Al Wajh, followed by the quads, cars, side-by-sides and finally the trucks.

Defending champion Toby Price started 2020 picking back where he had left off in 2019 — with a stage win that made sure his opponents heard him loud and clear. Price of Red Bull KTM Factory Team secured the fastest time of the day amid tricky terrain, all while riding blind after his roadbook tore completely at the 15km mark.

Price was given a two-minute penalty but managed to edge out Ricky Brabec, second, followed by fellow KTM teammate Matthias Walkner, third, trailing just forty seconds behind.

Toby Price races Dakar Rally 2020 stage 1
Toby Price (AUS) of Red Bull KTM Factory Team races during stage 01 of Rally Dakar 2020 from Jeddah to Al Wajh. Photo: Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Price revealed: “It went well. It was a hard day, but it went well. My roadbook walked out on me after 15-odd kilometres, so it was strange. I was quite lucky in one way because I managed to follow on some dust and just keep up with the guys. Once the road book is gone, then you’re pretty much driving blind. At the moment it looks good on paper, but I think we have a bit of a penalty coming. It’s not the greatest start, but it’s still a long rally to go. We’re in good shape, we feel good on the bike, and we’re happy.”

The Australian with race number 1 is in no mood to relinquish his throne in Saudi Arabia. However, at only seconds back after Price’s penalty, Ricky Brabec seems more than capable of taking the fight to KTM, unless Matthias Walkner goes back to his winning ways.

Brabec made the most of terrain suited to his riding style to finish second in the opening stage from Jeddah to Al Wajh and got off to a flying start.

Ricky Brabec second place Dakar 2020 stage 1
Ricky Brabec. Photo: DPPI Media

“It was a good first stage. The terrain was epic. Rocky, sandy, fast, rivers. I loved it. Just like my home. I feel really comfortable here and hopefully there’s more days like this. I heard the second week is gonna have a lot of sand, but hopefully we can maintain and make it to the rest day. The first part of the marathon stage is tomorrow. Elite riders have ten minutes to basically look at our bike and park it for the night. We don’t have any parts.”

Price and Walkner’s fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders, Sam Sunderland and Luciano Benavides are also in the striking distance, remaining in the Top 10 after the first day of racing.

The second stage of racing takes the convoy to Neom with 401km and a Special Stage of 367km that gives riders views of the Red Sea and throws some navigational challenges into the works.

Stage 1 Top 10 Motorcycle Rankings

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Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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