Honda rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo extended his Dakar Rally lead with his first victory of the 2021 edition on Monday’s eighth stage.
Chilean rider Cornejo took the lead of the Saudi Arabian event on Sunday, by just one second from KTM’s Toby Price, and was second on the road for Monday’s 375km Sakaka-Neom stage behind Honda colleague and defending champion Ricky Brabec.
Initially trailing Price, Cornejo took the advantage at the 307km waypoint and managed to stretch out a lead of 1m05s over the Australian rider by the finish – giving himself an enhanced cushion of 1m06s in the general classification.
Brabec ended up third, 2m50s off the pace of teammate Cornejo, while KTM’s Sam Sunderland and another Honda rider, Joan Barreda, made up the top five.
Sunderland remains third overall, 5m57s off the lead, while fourth-placed Kevin Benavides (Honda) has slipped 12m58s off the lead after dropping three minutes late on.
Fourth overnight, Husqvarna privateer Xavier de Soultrait was forced out of the rally after a crash at the 267km mark. The Frenchman had to be airlifted away from the stage and has been taken to hospital for x-rays.
As a result, Barreda is now up to fifth place overall, one place ahead of Brabec, who jumped ahead of fellow American Skyler Howes (KTM) in the standings.
Following Ross Branch’s major time loss on Sunday, Yamaha suffered yet another setback on Monday when Franco Caimi suffered engine trouble and was forced to retire.
It leaves only Branch and Adrian van Beveren left in the race of the manufacturer’s factory roster, provisionally 13th and 14th overall.
Standings after Stage 8 (Top 10):
1 Jose Ignacio Cornejo
2 Toby Price
3 Sam Sunderland
4 Kevin Benavides
5 Joan Barreda
6 Ricky Brabec
7 Skyler Howes
8 Daniel Sanders
9 Lorenzo Santolino
10 Pablo Quintanilla