Dakar Rally 2023, Saudi Arabia, Stage Round World 1
When we think about the Dakar Rally, it’s normally sunny, hot and full of sand. Today’s special stage was 447 kilometres long and offered the riders an impressive variety of terrains and sensations. Still some challenging rocky tracks on the horizon, dirt and sandy tracks made this day – leaving for the end some unusual showers and mud to welcome all at the Ha’Il bivouac!
Monster Energy Honda Team had today a major casualty, after the abandonment of Ricky Brabec. The first American to win the Dakar Rally, back in 2020, has suffered a fall after 274 km of the special stage. He was rescued by helicopter and is safe at the local hospital. After all exams, the medical staff at Ha’Il hospital confirms he has no fractures or other severe condition. For precaution, he will remain under observation for another 24 hours, but his condition is good.
Pablo Quintanilla was again the first of the squad today with a seven place on the third stage, followed by Adrien Van Beveren (8 place) and José Ignacio Cornejo – who was 10th. This means Pablo and Van Beveren keep the same position in the overall standings (7th and 8th places), while Nacho is ranked in the 12th position.
Tomorrow the fourth stage from this year’s Dakar Rally will have a start and finish at the Ha’Il bivouac. This special stage will have 425 kilometers and a liaison of 152 km. The weather forecast talks about the comeback of the sun. Sheer mountains of sand will appear in the first 100 kilometers. After that, there is tricky navigation on the sandy tracks leading back to Ha’Il. So sand dunes and sand tracks will dominate (36% each), leaving just 10% of dirt tracks and rocky sections (9%).
Ruben Faria – General Manager, Honda said, “I want to leave a special word to our rider Ricky Brabec, who had to leave the rally after a crash. Monster Energy Honda Team is proud of him and thankful for all his efforts. He is a great rider – for sure one of the best – and a good person. So we wish him a full and speedy recovery!”
Honda rider Pablo Quintanilla said, “I am really sorry for Ricky. He is a great rider, a great friend and he was doing a good job at this Dakar. Hopefully he doesn’t have anything serious, so I am sure he will come back soon. About my day, it was another hard one and long. The rain made the stage a little bit more difficult than normal, making the sand heavy. I did my best and it was important to finish without any mistakes.”
Honda rider Adrien Van Beveren said, “This was a difficult stage, especially when I saw Ricky on the ground, but luckily he was ok. The day was correct to me, I gave my best trying to avoid any mistakes. So I am ready for another day at the Dakar Rally, feeling strong and confident in my skills and support from my team.”
Honda rider José Ignacio Cornejo said. “This was another tough stage and I am really sorry my teammate Ricky had to abandon. The conditions were mixed but very hard. I had a small crash in the beginning and it took me a while to regroup after that. But I am happy with my performance, this Dakar is just starting and I am here to resist and succeed.”