With all four team riders in great shape, Monster Energy Honda Team is today enjoying a rest day in Ha’il as the squad prepares to tackle the second and final week of the Dakar Rally which recommences tomorrow, Sunday, with the marathon stage.
Saturday, 9 January 2021 | Rest Day
Monster Energy Honda Team is taking advantage of a well-deserved rest day at the 2021 Dakar, not only to catch some breath and recharge the batteries, but also to make the final preparations necessary ahead of the second decisive week of racing.
Mechanics have given a methodical service to each of the riders’ Honda CRF450 RALLYs. The daily maintenance involves a complete overhaul of every element of each motorcycle, to ensure maximum performance over the forthcoming stages. The riders, meanwhile, are also preparing for the Marathon Stage which will take place from tomorrow. Before the double shift gets underway, they will need to check, not only their clothing and protection, but also all the tools and elements necessary should any unforeseen events arise on the stage which will travel, first towards Sakaka and then on to Neom. Additionally, they’ll need a sleeping bag, warm clothes and a pillow to spend the night at the Sakaka camp.
The team is all set to face the decisive week. Over the first six stages, Monster Energy Honda Team riders have been key protagonists on virtually every day of racing. From the prologue until yesterday, Brabec, Benavides and Barreda have all claimed victories in Dakar 2021 special stages, with Barreda winning three. All currently hold positions in the general standings which favour a final assault on the ultimate goal: overall victory. Benavides lies in second place overall, 2’16” from the leader, followed in third place by young Chilean rider José Ignacio Cornejo, less than three minutes adrift of the leading rider. Joan Barreda also keeps his options open some 6’30” behind the overall leader, with team-mate and incumbent champion Ricky Brabec holding thirteenth place and likely to make his presence felt over the coming stages.
Sakaka will be the destination tomorrow as the Marathon Stage gets underway. Riders will arrive back at the camp after a 737-kilometre trek including 453 kilometres against the clock – during which competitors will be unable to receive any outside mechanical assistance, with any maintenance having to be carried out by the riders themselves.
We are all fine. All the riders are in the top thirteen and two of them in the top three of the race. This means that we have managed to ride a risk-free week without any issues which was the main objective: to arrive at the rest day with all four riders well-positioned. We are now planning the second week. The previous one was something different from what we had expected, with a lot of outsiders in the top positions. Each rider made his own strategy and tomorrow he will start a new race with the Marathon stage. It is the second phase of the race and, once completed, we will finally get to see how we can face the final days of the Dakar. We want to get to the Neom bivouac as well as possible, without any mishaps, and then fight to win the overall race.
Our riders had a very good first week and our bikes didn’t let us down. Last year in the same area as the coming stages, they had a great race, so we hope that we will be able to continue the same way, as that type of terrain suits both our riders and the bikes as well.