Ricky Brabec and Joan Barreda both posted final positions that would see them on the rostrum as day two of the 2019 Dakar Rally concluded with the pair in second and third places. In the overall standings, Monster Energy Honda Team’s Spanish component holds the lead.
Things are looking up for the Monster Energy Honda Team on a day which saw Ricky Brabec and Joan Barreda in the fray for the stage victory. It didn’t turn out that way in the end, but the duo are well-placed in the top three and maintain their hard-fought positions from yesterday.
The stage proved to be a fast one with 90% of the special off-piste and just 20% in the dunes. The mótards started out behind the cars and side-by-sides, but the potential problems that the top riders had expected failed to materialise. All the bikes made it safely back to the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona after a long link section, on a day that had included 342 kilometres of timed special out of a total of 554 km.
Joan Barreda (STAGE: 3RD OVERALL: 1ST): “Days like today are really important. When you start out in first position, winning is very difficult. Open the track without making any mistakes throughout the day is really complicated, but these are the days that you really make progress on.
“At first I doubted as to whether to follow the tracks or not, but in the part on the beach I saw that they were catching me up and following the tracks I was able to push hard with good pace. In the end it turned out to be a perfect stage, with a very good starting position for tomorrow.”
Ricky Brabec very nearly stole the stage victory, but the American had to settle for second place, coming home just 22 seconds adrift of the eventual stage winner. Joan Barreda, who opened the special alone, posted third, 1’41” seconds behind Walkner.
Ricky Brabec (STAGE: 2ND OVERALL: 3RD): “The second stage was awesome. More or less like what I’m used to at home. Lot’s of fast track, lots of rocks, fesh fesh and some dunes. I had a fun day, and rode most of the day with Quintanilla. It was great so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Third overall is not that good. We’ve got to be in front. So we are going to try tomorrow.”
All the Monster Energy Honda Team riders keep their positions in the general rankings, such as Kevin Benavides, eighth on the stage who holds the same slot overall. ‘Nacho’ Cornejo finished tenth and lies ninth in the table while Paulo Gonçalves repeated his eleventh position.
The third stage of the Dakar will take all the participants to Arequipa where they will contest the longest stage in the opening half of the rally. The day will be made up of 331 kilometres of timed special out of 799 total kilometres which will take the competitors from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa. Riders are scheduled to arrive at the bivouac around 16:00 hrs local time.
Kevin Benavides (STAGE: 8TH OVERALL: 8TH): “The idea for today’s stage was to hold on to the position, it was not a day for attacking. The cars opened the track and it was a dangerous stage so I did not feel very comfortable opening the throttle. I preferred to sit back a little as there is still a lot of race ahead. I feel good and I am ready to attack when the opportunity arises.”
José Ignacio Cornejo (STAGE: 10TH OVERALL: 9TH): “Today’s stage was a very fast one. We started out behind the cars so there were quite a lot of broken areas with stones under the ground, so I had to take it easy. The idea of these first days is not to take any risks. I hold the same position but I am improving and I am motivated for the following days.”
Paulo Goncalves (STAGE: 11TH OVERALL: 11TH): “It was a long stage with more than 300 km where the cars started out ahead of the bikes and there were parts with a lot of fesh-fesh. There was also a lot of dust but even so I was able to overtake several cars. In the end I finished without problems with a calm pace so as to avoid any mistakes. One more day and I’m very pleased.”