Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides is a stone’s throw away from a final overall podium place when tomorrow’s last stage concludes in Cordoba, Argentina. It was a tough slog today with Argentinean rider Benavides, giving the race his all, and eventually going on to post second place.
Today’s stage featured two different special stages with a total of 424 kilometres against the clock as part of the full 907 kilometres on the day. The first special, with barely visible tracks, took the competitors through sand and vegetation as well as testing rider’s navigational skills in rivers beds. The final stretch passed through fifty kilometres of dunes. Special B was raced over ‘WRC -style’ narrower tracks filled with sharp bends.
Kevin Benavides performed well to keep his rivals in check and to cut down the difference that separates him from the leader by nine minutes. The Argentine rider finished second, two minutes behind the winner of the special and tomorrow he should be able to confirm his position on the final day of the 40th Dakar Rally.
American Ricky Brabec has unable to finish the first special today after suffering an electrical problem. Brabec was in fourth provisional position on the day and in sixth overall spot.
The young Chilean rider José Ignacio Cornejo, riding the bike of Portuguese retiree Paulo Gonçalves, today stopped to try and help out team-mate Ricky Brabec, but was not able to assist him and get the American back into the race. In spite of conceding 45 minutes, the rider still remains in the top ten in the general rankings of the race.
Tomorrow we can look forward to a white-knuckle ride as the competitors go all out to improve or defend their positions. They will have only 120 kilometres of timed special, out a total of 286 km in which to make their mark. Both start and finish of the race are in Cordoba. The first rider is due to start the special at 08:30 in the morning and should finish shortly before noon after crossing several rivers on many occasions.