HRC in Control - Rider Comments

Posted on January 13, 2021

Stage ten of the 2021 Dakar rally has once again shown the brilliance of the HRC effort as they won the stage and now lead the event. In fact so strong is their domination that their four riders hold down first, second, third and fifth places in the rally.

Kevin Benavides leads the event after 10 stages, while Ricky Brabec won todays stage. In the overall placings its Benivades, Brabec, Jose Ignacio Cornejo in third, then Red Bull KTM rider Sam Sunderland fourth and another HRC boy Joan Barreda in fifth overall. Below are the rider comments.

Ricky Brabec: Today definitely was a good day, but it was unfortunate for our team-mate Nacho Cornejo. We heard that he crashed, but finished the stage and they ended up taking him to the hospital. It’s unfortunate for him, but he’s OK and he made it to the finish-line. That’s always a plus. Today was fast with some traces from yesterday and some from last year. My team Kevin at kilometre 75 went off the roadbook a bit and got confused, so I took over from there opening the whole way until the end. I was thinking all day about a strategy, to try and sit back a little and set myself up for tomorrow, but the other guys were a little bit off the pace and too far behind. I didn’t want to sit back and wait for six minutes, so I decided to bite the bullet and push all day. Tomorrow I will open the stage. I’m very lucky to have my team-mate Joan and Kevin behind me. Unfortunately, if they catch me, I’m going to lose time tomorrow, but it is what it is. We’ve put in one hundred percent and have given it everything. Hopefully in the end everyone will be happy. Anything less than winning will be unacceptable. We’ll do our best and try and make it to the end on top. It would be great to get all the Hondas on the box, but if we get on top, that will be the ultimate. But the situation I’m in for stage eleven is not bad, but it’s not going to be easy. They’ve made it tough this year and the boys have made it tough too. I’ll try and do my best. 

José Ignacio Cornejo: I’ve failed in my mission. Today I had a very heavy fall that left me unconscious for a few minutes, I was able to get back onto the bike, but very slowly and with the bike all bent up. I made the stage 10 finish-line, but for safety reasons I have to get such a heavy blow to the head checked out properly. I feel like I’ve been hit by a train. I have nothing left to do but thank my team, my family, my trainers and all the fans for their tremendous support and encouragement. We were so close to the big dream… it will remain unfinished business.

Kevin Benavides: Today's stage was very complicated, I started opening the track and I was very focused until kilometre 80 where I made a navigation error and I dropped a couple of minutes until I found the WP. Ricky had just arrived there and he overtook me so I followed behind. There was a lot of dust and there were also a lot of rocks and dry rivers, so I stayed a little further back during the whole stage. I have heard the news about Nacho's withdrawal; it's a shame because he really did an incredible job day after day. I wish to send my best wishes to Nacho, and hope he gets well as soon as possible and I know that he will be back stronger than ever to continue the fight. For our part, we will continue giving everything as a team and personally I will fighting for what is also my dream. I am very aware that anything can happen so I will try to keep working as I have done until now. Tomorrow, we will have a very long stage, we’ll have to be smart and navigate well.

Joan Barreda: Today was a good stage for me. The truth is that it was very important to get into the groove again after yesterday, where I had a fairly heavy fall and lost consciousness for a bit. Today it was important to make progress. The first kilometres were difficult as there was a lot of dust and it was difficult to overtake other riders. It went well and now there are two stages until the end. I'm a bit sad for Nacho, he had done a great job throughout the Dakar. Now, the most important thing is that he is fine, and can recover and that he can continue working like before. Tomorrow is going to be one of the longest stages so we will have to be very focused so as to not to make any mistakes. If we can do a good job over these two days and get the three Honda riders onto the podium, it would be incredible. But if it doesn't happen, we'll also be super satisfied with the great job we've done so far. 

Sam Sunderland: “It was a tough stage for me today, I felt good out there but made a couple of mistakes and lost quite a bit of time. The road book is so complicated this year and it’s not so easy to stick to the right track. I was leading my group earlier and then at one moment, I couldn’t find the way. I tried to follow the caps in the road book but ended up riding around in circles for a couple of minutes. I’m doing my best and this year has certainly proved to be tough for all of us. I’m fit and the bike is good, so hoping for a better day tomorrow.”

Adrien Van Beveren: "Another good stage for me so I’m really happy with how this week is going at the Dakar. Another rocky stage today, but a good result on this terrain gives me confidence for the long stage tomorrow where we can expect a lot of sand. Today was really demanding, both physically and mentally but I like it like this. Towards the end of the stage I had to ease off because there was so much dust but overall I’m happy with how today went for me."

Pablo Quintanilla: “Another stage done and I’m happy to get to the finish. I’m still struggling to find a good rhythm on the different types of terrain, but I’m trying my best and happy with my overall result. We have two days left now and tomorrow looks like it will be a very long, tough stage. I will get some rest tonight and then set off tomorrow and hopefully put in a good ride for a strong result.”

Matthias Walkner: “Yeah the stage today wasn’t meant to be so tricky, but it seems like all Dakar stages now are really, really tough. We have to focus so hard not just on what is in front of us, but the navigation too. I think everyone today suffered with the dust as well. As the rally nears the finish everyone is pushing that little bit harder, a mistake with your road book can cost you a few minutes and drop you down the order, but it’s so easy to have a crash and lose even more time. I enjoyed the stage, and the scenery was amazing again, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Daniel Sanders: “It was rough going out there today. Not the best stage for me, I got lost a couple of times early on and that cost me some minutes. Towards the end there, Skyler came past me and I was in his dust then and decided to settle for a safe finish. I managed to conserve a bit of energy over those last 100 kilometers as we have got a really long day tomorrow and it’s going to be a tough one.”