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Adrien Van Beveren kept his cool to notch up his second stage victory on Dakar 2024 as Ricky Brabec took a sizeable lead in the overall standings.
Heading back west to AlUla, the location of the start of this year’s event, stage nine was predicted to be difficult but the Monster Energy Honda Team made light work of the swathes of sand and rocky terrain across the 417 km special with a clean sweep of the stage podium.
Despite his initial frustration yesterday at having to be third off the line today, Van Beveren’s start position didn’t seem to faze him as he quickly dispatched stage opener Kevin Benavides and then be first on the road for almost 400 km to the finish. Although having to slow towards the end to find the correct route, his reward was a sizeable chunk in bonuses of over five and a half minutes which today put him ahead of Brabec who had achieved the best time of the stage.
In what could prove to be a decisive day for the Frenchman, he has now moved up the standings to third with just over eleven minutes to claw back to the leader as the constant battle with teammate José Ignacio Cornejo for that final podium position continues.
Ricky Brabec played today to perfection, by keeping his main rival Ross Branch close yesterday the Californian was on the attack on the rolling dunes to finish behind Van Beveren and stretch his lead overall by seven minutes in what could be the turning point at this year’s Dakar.
As the ancient sites of AlUla welcomed the riders again at the end of a long day, Pablo Quintanilla made a return to the stage podium in what was a much better day for the Chilean rider. Although not in the overall reckoning he can now focus on accumulating points for the World Rally-Raid Championship title and help Brabec and Van Beveren when they open the stage tomorrow.
Nacho Cornejo got disorientated on the route before the refuelling point which knocked his podium chances to lose him ten minutes on the stage to Van Beveren. His seventh place finish has increased the gap to nearly fourteen minutes off Brabec as he’ll hope to capitalise on any mistakes made tomorrow by his fellow competitors.
With the Monster Energy Honda Team picking up the prologue and now six stage wins, the fight continues heading into stage ten tomorrow on a rocky loop around AlUla. The 371 km special stage will need riders to keep their wits about them as the famous rocky backdrops will look to catch them out with a technical route that could throw them off course.
t was a very good stage for the Monster Energy Honda Team today. Adrien did a really good job from third at the start and quickly got past Kevin and Luciano (Benavides) to lead most of the stage. With the bonuses he has recovered time in the overall which has moved him up to third and just over four minutes behind Ross Branch.
Ricky was on the attack to increase the gap overall and with it now at seven minutes, this is great for him going into the final few days.
At the 100 km mark, Nacho made a little mistake and lost a bit of time to drop him to fourth, but I believe he can make recover this to be on the podium.
At the moment the team is in good shape, we’re strong, motivated and we will aim to arrive in Yanbu at the top of the standings.
Finally I had a good day without any issues. I was feeling good in the morning so I’m happy. Today was a long stage, the first 100 km was physically demanding with many off-piste sections, camel grass and some dunes with drops. Then after the refuelling the terrain changed a little bit with rocky sections and the navigation wasn’t so easy.
My goal now is that the team wins the rally so if I can help then I’ll give my all.
Today was possibly one of my only shots to make a big push and try to make a bit bigger gap than forty or fifty seconds so I gave it my all today. I think tomorrow we’re probably going to have to open but if I can clean up I think we’ll be set free. In the 2020 Dakar I pulled a gap early on and this has definitely been the most stressful race of my life because it’s so close. Anyway, with a few more days to go, let’s keep the hopes up and keep charging.
Adrien Van Beveren
It was a tough day but a good one as I finally opened almost 400 km of the stage. Kevin (Benavides) was following and he was a good support as there were moments where it was really, really difficult. I tried my best and to be consistent so I’m happy with how the stage went.
José Ignacio “Nacho” Cornejo
It wasn’t a good day for me, I made a big mistake before refuelling and lost a lot of time there. Then I tried to push and stick with Ricky who had caught up with me. That mistake cost me some valuable minutes in the fight for the general rankings, but there are still some days left and I’m going to give my best to the finish. Hopefully, I’ll have a solid stage tomorrow without the mistakes I made today.
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