Kevin Benavides finished in runner-up spot today on day three of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Monster Energy Honda Team riders are poised to attack from advantageous start positions for tomorrow’s penultimate day of racing.

More dunes and more sand, but the same heat and, from the first hour this morning, the same bothersome wind that has been irritating the riders. The third special was the longest of the entire rally with practically three hundred kilometres against the clock en route through the Liwa desert with certain stretches nearing the Saudi Arabian border.

The best of the Monster Energy Honda Team was Kevin Benavides. The Argentine, who took a hard shoulder blow in a fall during yesterday’s stage, set out today intent on pulling back some of the time lost. The rider reached the finish-line, on this the third day of racing, with the second best time of all the riders remaining in the race.

As the winner of yesterday’s stage, Nacho Cornejo had to lead the riders out today. The Chilean, whose start preceded that of Joan Barreda, opened the track for several kilometres until his team-mate come out of his wake to take the lead before reaching the refuelling at kilometre 185.8. Later the duo, together with three other riders, finished the special in a group. Barreda posted seventh with Nacho behind him, which places the Spaniard third in the rally’s overall standings.

If today was the longest special to be disputed, tomorrow sees the longest stage, once again in the Liwa desert. The fourth day of the race, will include 286 kilometres against the clock, with riders having to complete two liaison sections of 135 and 100 kilometres, both before and after the timed special.

Kevin Benavides

Kevin Benavides

Obviously, the stage position today leaves me happy, even though I am with a broken rib and with my shoulder injured. I was able to ride a beautiful stage even though the pain persists. At least it made it worth the effort. I am pleased with the way the stage developed. I tried to focus on enjoying the bike and forgetting the insignificant stuff. For me, the goal is clear: finish the race. I want to thank the effort that the team is making right now, in this time of added difficulties.

Monster Energy Honda Team
Joan Barreda

Joan Barreda

It was a positive day. We knew we would be riding ahead and that, in this kind of race here in Abu Dhabi, we would get caught up sooner or later. We kept up a good pace but then they caught us up and kept us in check. It has been a long stage, with many kilometres. The temperatures increased and the toughness of this race was noticeable. Nacho had a very good stage today. Tomorrow we will go back and try to set a good pace and have a good stage.

Monster Energy Honda Team
José Ignacio Cornejo

José Ignacio Cornejo

Until the refuelling I was opening track although Joan was close behind. The following pack regained some time on me. In the second part, the difficulty of riding in the dunes was made greater because of the wind and the others caught me up, to finish all together. We knew that was going to happen because it was inevitable, but I tried to minimise the differences with my rivals. It was good to open the track for most of the day and I navigated well in the dunes holding a good pace. I think I will have a good starting place for tomorrow; We will try to have a good stage.

Monster Energy Honda Team
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Rally 2019, Round 1

Tuesday 2 Apr 2019, 14:07 UTC
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Sam Sunderland GBR 25 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 4:00'27
2 Kevin Benavides ARG 20 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +2'51
3 Aaron Mare RSA 16 Vendetta Racing UAE KTM +4'20
4 Luciano Benavides ARG 13 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +6'06
5 Mohammed Jaffar UAE 11 Team Jaffar KTM +8'04
6 Mark Ackerman RSA 10 SRG Motorsports Husqvarna +8'44
7 Joan Barreda SPA 9 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +9'05
8 José Ignacio Cornejo CHI 8 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +12'00
9 Ryan Blair GBR 7 SRG Motorsports Husqvarna +16'42
10 Mohammed Al Balooshi UAE 6 Balooshi Racing KTM UAE KTM +19'27
Monday 1 Apr 2019, 13:10 UTC
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 José Ignacio Cornejo CHI 25 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 3:13'21
2 Joan Barreda SPA 20 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +1'43
3 Andrew Short USA 16 Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +2'58
4 Luciano Benavides ARG 13 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +3'30
5 Sam Sunderland GBR 11 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +5'55
6 Mohammed Jaffar UAE 10 Team Jaffar KTM +10'17
7 Aaron Mare RSA 9 Vendetta Racing UAE KTM +11'36
8 Kevin Benavides ARG 8 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +11'48
9 Ryan Blair GBR 7 SRG Motorsports Husqvarna +12'09
10 Mark Ackerman RSA 6 SRG Motorsports Husqvarna +13'16
Sunday 31 Mar 2019, 15:38 UTC
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Sam Sunderland GBR 25 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 3:40'41
2 Andrew Short USA 20 Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +6'09
3 José Ignacio Cornejo CHI 16 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +6'46
4 Luciano Benavides ARG 13 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +9'07
5 Kevin Benavides ARG 11 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +14'27
6 Mark Ackerman RSA 10 SRG Motorsports Husqvarna +40'31
7 Ryan Blair GBR 9 SRG Motorsports Husqvarna +40'49
8 Mohammed Al Balooshi UAE 8 Balooshi Racing KTM UAE KTM +42'49
9 David McBride GBR 7 Vendetta Racing UAE KTM +1:01'06
10 Mohammed Jaffar UAE 6 Team Jaffar KTM +1:04'15
NC Joan Barreda SPA 0 Monster Energy Honda Team Honda DNF
Provisional Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Standings
Tuesday, 2 Apr 2019
# Rider Nationality Nat. Team Constructor Constr.
1 Sam SUNDERLAND GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM
2 Luciano BENAVIDES ARG Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM
3 José Ignacio CORNEJO CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda
4 Kevin BENAVIDES ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda
5 Andrew SHORT USA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna
6 Mark ACKERMAN RSA SRG Motorsports Husqvarna
7 Ryan BLAIR GBR SRG Motorsports Husqvarna
8 Mohammed JAFFAR UAE Team Jaffar KTM
9 Mohammed AL BALOOSHI UAE Balooshi Racing KTM UAE KTM
10 David MCBRIDE GBR Vendetta Racing UAE KTM
15 Joan BARREDA SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda