After KTM led the opening two days of the 2020 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, America’s Ricky Brabec claimed on Tuesday the stage 3 win and the overall standings.
Brabec, who DNF’d while in the lead during the 2019 Dakar Rally due to mechanical failure, piloted his Monster Energy Honda CRF450R Rally to the victory that wrapped up the Super Marathon stage.
During the Marathon stages, the riders – without any assistance – could only work on their respective bikes for a maximum of 10 minutes after each stage.
Brabec wasn’t the only Honda pilot to finish the 313-mile stage (265 miles times) that looped the city of Neom. He was joined by teammates Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Chile, -05.56) and Kevin Benavides (Argentina, -0.7.22).
With only 25 minutes to looks at the roadbook ahead of the stage – a new rule implemented in 2020 Dakar – Monster Energy Honda said the stage took place amid slippery gravel-filled mountain tracks connected by a breakneck high-speed section of off-piste racing through a valley. The navigation proved particularly taxing, but Brabec, Cornejo, and Benavides were up to the task, giving Honda a podium lock-out at the end of the stage.
When stage 3 wrapped up, Brabec also claimed the overall lead in the general standings. He is now 04:43 ahead of Benavides, and 06.02 ahead of KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner, the 2018 Dakar Rally winner.
“Today was actually really fun,” Brabec said. “The train was really epic. There were a lot of rocks, lots of stones, a lot of sand, and a lot of tricky navigation. It was really fast, which is what I really prefer. I had a good starting position today. I started a little bit back in twelfth position.
“I didn’t have too much dust. I passed the first rider at kilometer 20. I knew today I could push. It was difficult. Every note that I thought was difficult I slowed down and took my time. I was pushing all day. We had three short specials. I was riding really well and I felt really good today.
“The roadbook is really good. The information here is really, really nice here. Tomorrow will be tricky. It’s always difficult opening because you have all the riders pushing behind you.
Stage four will challenge riders with equal sections of sand and gravel. The day will consist of 420 miles, with 282 of those timed.
2020 Dakar Rally, Stage 3 Results
1. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 3:29:31
2. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 3:35:27 +5:56
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 3:36:53 +7:22
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:37:44 +8:13
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:38:06 +8:35
2020 Dakar Rally Standings (after three of 12 stages)
1. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 10:39:04
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 10:43:47 +4:43
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 10:45:06 +6:02
4. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda 10:50:06 +11:02
5. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 10:50:23 +11:19