Monster Energy Honda Team riders turned out solid performances in today’s looping Al Qaisumah special, with sights firmly set on tomorrow’s longest 2022 Dakar Rally special. Brabec, Cornejo, Barreda and Quintanilla will all be looking to make up time and positions by the time they reach Riyadh.
Today’s third stage played out over an unscheduled loop in Al-Qaisumah on an altered route, shortened to a 255-kilometre special and a 380-kilometre link section. There were 214 kilometres of liaison to be tackled on this chilly morning, with temperatures below 10°C, before reaching the start of the day’s timed special. The stage was raced over fast sandy tracks, some type two dune ridges and some twelve kilometres of off-piste tracks.
Ricky Brabec was Monster Energy Honda Team’s best-placed rider today on this third stage, finishing sixth on the day in RallyGP after having set off from fifteenth position. Fine work for the American who is attempting to claw his way back up the rankings stage by stage.
José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo made a good recovery in the shortened special. The young Chilean continues to make notable progress, posting eleventh, a little over five minutes shy of the day’s winner. Barreda’s role as the day’s track-opener could have gone far worse for the Spanish rider who had been expected to drop considerable time compared to the frontrunners. By the end of the day Joan had only conceded ten-and-a-half minutes to the eventual stage winner. Bang Bang currently holds twelfth place, less than 24 minutes behind the overall rally leader. Pablo Quintanilla planned the day with tomorrow’s stage in mind, however, he dropped a fair amount of time to finish twenty-second, although holding on to an intermediate position in the general rankings close to his main rivals.
The fourth stage will see the entire Dakar bivouac transfer to the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. It will feature the longest special stage of the race, with 465 kilometres out of a total distance of 707 kilometres. From Al Qaisumah, riders and drivers will encounter a myriad of terrain types, each one more demanding than the previous: some 200 kilometres of fast track, dunes, rocks and stones and oueds – dry rivers crossings – which could cause some shake-ups in the general standings.
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