Stage four of the 2020 Dakar Rally saw the Monster Energy Honda Team components arrive at the final destination at the Al Ula bivouac, very well-positioned in the race. ‘Nacho’ Cornejo finished the race in first position, followed home by Benavides and Brabec. The American remains leader ahead of his team-mates.
The red livery of the Monster Energy Honda Team’s Honda CRF450 RALLYs was once again on victory parade today as the 2020 Dakar Rally arrives at day four. On the agenda, once more, was fast track which alternated between sandy and rocky sections.
Yesterday’s stage winner, American rider and current race leader Ricky Brabec, was the first to start out this morning, but despite the handicap of having to open without references ahead, was able, nevertheless, to set an infernal pace. Behind him, Nacho Cornejo was likewise putting pedal to the metal, not only maintaining his team-mate’s pace, but even managing to outstrip the Californian in the latter stretches. The Chilean, claimed his maiden special stage victory, after first place finisher Sam Sunderland was penalized. Cornejo holds third place overall.
Second on the day was Kevin Benavides, another rider in the frenetic battle for the stage triumph, who finished 35 seconds adrift of the stage winner. The Argentinean lies second in the general rankings. Behind him finished Monster Energy Honda Team stable-mate Brabec, who concluded the stage with a three-minute deficit from the Chilean stage winner. The Californian, nevertheless, continues to command at the head of the overall race standings with a 2’3” advantage over Benavides.
Not the best day at the office for Joan Barreda. Joan, starting from a favourable position, was victim of a fall, inflicting more damage to the rider, physically, and also to the machine navigation system. The Spaniard, who hails from Castellón, was able to make it back to the bivouac at Al Ula. Barreda is now seventh in the overall standings and is still maintaining his chances in the race.
For the fifth stage on Thursday, riders will once again be issued with the roadbooks 25 minutes before the start of the race. The race heads out from Al Ula, East-bound for Ha’il.
Nacho Conejo: 'I’m very happy with the stage victory. The truth is that I wasn’t expecting it with Sam’s penalization. I’m really pleased to have achieved my first Dakar stage win. Today was a very long stage, very demanding physically and above all mentally. The first part was very fast where there was practically no time difference between the riders. From the first refuelling, difficult navigation areas began with poorly visible tracks and many tracks on either side. It was quite difficult until I have caught Ricky approximately at kilometre 220 and we helped each other to open the track until the second refuelling. It was a difficult stage where we went through some very beautiful places. I’m very happy with this stage in which we kept a cool head to be able to find the route more easily.
Ricky Brabec: "The day was good. I didn’t have the best starting position. I started first. I was kind of nervous and I thought that I would lose a lot of time today. I’m very happy. I rode in front all day long. Then eventually my team-mate Nacho Cornejo caught up with me. We rode together from maybe kilometre 250 to the finish. We did really well. It was a really long and tiring day for the mind and the body. We are still healthy and the bikes are good and all the riders are still here. We have a couple of days left. We are going to rest and suit up for tomorrow.