Today the penultimate stage of this year’s Dakar Rally was a goodbye to the vast landscapes of the Empty Quarter side of Saudi Arabia. Leaving Shaybah, the riders had a short liaison of nine kilometers and then started the 153 km long special section. The route of this 13th stage was composed mainly with dunes (84 percent) so this was one last chance to enjoy this unique scenario and fight to move up in the top standings.
Monster Energy Honda Team surpassed this physical and mechanical extreme endurance test and reached Al-Hofuf bivouac safely on their Honda’s CRF 450 Rally. After yesterday’s stage win, José Ignacio Cornejo was the first to leave and had the mission to open the track. The Chilean finished with the best 14th time (12th in GP), with a gap of 07:42 minutes for the leader – a performance that allowed him to keep his 8th position in the overall standings. Pablo Quintanilla was 8th (6th in GP) with a gap of 03:33 minutes to the leader – he also kept his position in the overall standings (5th place). Adrien Van Beveren was all stage fighting for the top standings and finished in fourth position, also keeping his fourth place in the overall standings.
The last stage of this year’s Dakar Rally will complete the trip around the red sea, leading the caravan to the shores of the Arabian Gulf in Dammam. There will be a liaison of 270 kilometers from Al-Hofuf and a special section 136 km long – an unusually fast beach section before reaching the final podium ceremony that celebrates all finishers of this great adventure. Tomorrow there will be a reverse start, meaning the slowest will open and the top contenders close the stage.
Ruben Faria - General Manager: “This year's Dakar Rally is for sure one of the most competitive ever. The differences in the top standings are really tight after around 43 hours of racing . We are not in the position we wanted but our riders have been fighting stage after stage, giving all they can and having the full support of the team. That’s the spirit and this is Dakar, let’s continue to give our best. ”
Adrien Van Beveren 42: “I pushed a lot at the beginning and then I jumped really high in a dune and that was like a joker. It was kind of scary. I was trying to go fast but safe at the same time but that was not easy, due to the many drops in the dunes. Overall we are in the same position. I think this is my best Dakar, with a very solid performance. There is still one more day to go so let’s fight until the end. ”
Pablo Quintanilla 7: “This was a quite fun stage to ride, with many dunes. I was riding with a good rhythm from the beginning and overall it was a good stage. One more day to go and I know I gave everything in each stage, so that is the way I plan to keep until the last kilometer .”
José Ignacio Cornejo 11: “I knew this was going to be a difficult day, because I had to open the stage. We lost some time like normal, I did the best I could so it was not so bad. I was feeling good and I am glad all my teammates could also return safely to the bivouac. Now let’s continue and give all we can in the last stage ”
Source Monster Energy Honda Team