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Ricky Brabec put in a blistering performance to take his first stage victory of the 2024 Dakar as the finish line draws closer.
With just three days of rallying remaining there was going to be no let up on stage ten with more challenges ahead. The day held a total riding distance of 609 km with a 371 km special that would include fast sandy plateaus, some off-piste sections which would really test their navigation skills and just to throw in some extra confusion, there would still be tracks on the route from stage one and the prologue which could really disorientate them.
After taking the top three spots yesterday it meant that Adrien Van Beveren would be handed the not-so-easy task of opening stage ten followed by Ricky Brabec and Pablo Quintanilla. In what has proven to be a burden to not have any tracks to follow because so much time can be lost, Van Beveren and Brabec shared the duties after 100 km so that they could give themselves the time bonuses on offer today.
Brabec was completely unfazed by riding at the front as the laid-back American acquired over two minutes in bonuses and now has a cushion of nearly eleven minutes in the overall standings to Ross Branch.
Van Beveren found some of the navigation quite complex which caused him to get lost near the end of the stage. Regardless, he soldiered on to finish in third just 20 seconds behind Brabec as he also accrued a healthy four and half minute in bonuses which has seen him cut the deficit overall to second placed Branch. It’s ‘game on’ for the Frenchman who has excelled in this second week of rallying.
Participating in his ninth Dakar Rally, José Ignacio Cornejo has put in some great, consistent performances over the past twelve days and today was no exception. It was all about the number two for the Chilean as despite some small navigational errors he ended the stage in second, an astonishing two seconds behind Brabec and is now two minutes and two seconds behind Van Beveren for that final podium position.
After getting caught out with the navigation, Pablo Quintanilla rode with Branch and Toby Price to the end of the stage playing it safe as a group to finish the day in eleventh.
The penultimate day looms on the horizon as the battle for the podium positions continue as they head east to Yanbu, across rugged terrain from AlUla where the Red Sea will greet the riders at the end of a draining 480 km special stage.
Stage eleven on Thursday and David Castera (Dakar Rally organiser) has said it’s going to be the most difficult stage so we need to take care. Ricky will open it with Nacho and Adrien just behind in support, but they are also fighting for the podium.
We were expecting a not so difficult day but in the end it was pretty tough with a lot of rocky sections and hard navigation. The last part was not easy to navigate with some tricky notes between the rocks and valleys. It didn’t make much sense for me to push in these conditions when I didn’t feel so confident, it was a case of managing to get to the end safely.
The day was good although the navigation wasn’t easy. In the first 50 km I was riding into the sun so that was difficult and then once I’d caught Adrien we rode together the whole way. We made some little mistakes here and there, but we came out in a good position for tomorrow and the last day. With two days left we have a little bit of a lead so let’s see what happens tomorrow.
Adrien Van Beveren
I was expecting another fluid and fast stage but it was far from that. The navigation was tricky and difficult and I really tried to manage it and not get lost. At any rate, coming in first with Ricky after leading the way for so long is yet another solid performance. It's starting to take a toll physically, and this could tip the scales, but we'll see how it goes, there are still two days left and we need to stay focused.
José Ignacio “Nacho” Cornejo
it was a tough stage as I woke up with a sore throat this morning. I just tried to push as much as I could without making any navigation mistakes, I made a couple of small ones but nothing major. The fight for the podium is tight so I’ll keep doing my best until the very end.
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