Mission accomplished for Kevin Benavides in the third stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally. The Argentinean rider, who posted second on the day, ascends the general rankings to second spot just three minutes adrift of the current leader. Likewise, Ricky Brabec performed well to finish fourth as Barreda concedes his leadership.
Monster Energy Honda Team had a day of varied fortunes. On the plus side, Kevin Benavides stormed into the battle for the overall podium, after a day filled with skilful, aggressive riding. Runner-up spot on the day moves the Argentinean talent up to second in the general rankings. Benavides picked off his adversaries and ended up opening the field over the final stretches of the special stage.
"I am very happy and satisfied with this stage, where I ended up opening the track in the final kilometers," he said after the stage. "It was tough but I got a good result that leaves me in a good position. The special was very hard indeed, very difficult in the dunes, with some very soft parts, where the bike kept getting stuck in the sand. We will continue fighting this Dakar to improve on this second place in the race."
Ricky Brabec likewise rode a splendid stage to take fourth place on a day of complicated, yet virtually error-free navigation. "It was a good stage, with very complicated navigation; difficult too, because there were a lot of ruts marked out from yesterday," said the US-American "I think that I didn’t make too many mistakes, or at least I haven’t paid too dearly for them. I am quite happy to finish this difficult whole stage and am pretty satisfied with the position on the day and in the overall race."
José Ignacio Cornejo moved up into the stage’s top ten. The Chilean rider’s ninth place signals just how well the youngster has taken to the Honda CRF450 Rally and is reflected in his current thirteenth overall position. ‘Nacho’ was pleased with the result after a prudent performance and hopes to continue the positive spell over the forthcoming stages.
Joan Barreda’s fortunes fared less well. After setting out first and opening the track, by the time the day was done the Spanish rider had finished the special in thirtieth place. Joan conceded twenty-seven minutes after taken a mistaken path that led him ever further from the scheduled route. Michael Metge was similarly short of luck. The Frenchman set off at a fine pace only to find his navigational equipment breakdown, leaving the rider without reference points. Metge was forced to run the rest of the race alongside other riders until the close of the special where he took eleventh position.
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