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Dakar Rally 2020: Brabec and Honda takes charge on dramatic stage 3 in Saudi Arabia

Honda Racing rider Ricky Brabec opens a gap on stage three of 2020 Dakar Rally as rivals lose ground in the Saudi Desert – Honda riders take top three result.


Ricky Brabec, Jose Cornejo and Keven Benavides brought a 1-2-3 result for Honda on stage three of the 2020 Dakar Rally today in Saudi Arabia. On a day which saw riders dealing with dust, navigational issues, crashes and mechanical failures, the overall provisional rally results show Honda riders now take four of the top five places.

Brabec dakar2020 results stage3 Win portrait 560

Bike problems, dust and crashes aside, lot of riders lost time on the third stage today having a harder time reading the new roadbooks (handed to riders today just prior to the stage start) while trying to ride fast – which is part of the aim of course, to slow them down a bit. 

Some of the navigation issues were also down to a non-existent waypoint late in the day which caused most riders problems. The organisers rectified it by halting the stage early, taking the results from kilometre 389, rather than the 427-kilometre mark as originally planned.

When the dust had settled and the times corrected it was Ricky Brabec looking every bit as comfortable in the conditions as he did in 2019 (before his bike expired). The American finished 3h:29m:31s, some 5m:56s ahead of his teammate Jose Cornejo. That means Brabec assumes the lead by 4m:43s over his other teammate, Kevin Benavides with Matthais Walkner a consistent third overall, six minutes back after a solid stage today.

matthias.walkner Dakar 2020 stage 3 560

Brabec though was the rider of the day, taking the second super marathon stage and the seemingly troubing notion of using fresh eyes on the roadbook in his stride. “Today was actually really fun.” Said Ricky at the finish. “The terrain 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 kilometre 20 and I knew today I could push. 

“Every note that I thought was difficult I slowed down and took my time. I was pushing all day. We had three short specials. The roadbook is really good and the information here is really, really nice. 

“Tomorrow will be tricky. It’s always difficult opening because you have all the riders pushing behind you.”

 Check the Honda Racing daily video:


Starting out second on the road, but quickly overtaking yesterday's winner to open the stage, Sam Sunderland rode from overall rally leader to lose 21 minutes on stage and finish over 17 minutes down in ninth. Sunderland explains: “The stage didn’t start too well for me as I had a small issue with my GPS, but after that I was able to push on and made my way to the front. I think I did a good job of opening the stage and didn’t make too many mistakes. 

“After the refuelling I was the first to come across the missing waypoint and struggled for a long time to work it out, the other riders caught me there and it was a bit chaotic until we worked it out. Thankfully, that has all been sorted now and I can concentrate on winning back some time tomorrow.”

sam.sunderland Dakar 2020 stage 3 560

The Factory Yamaha squad took some blows on stage three also with Xavier de Soultrait injuring his arm and Adrien Van Beveren taking an almost copybook crash (like in 2018) and going out of the rally. Van Beveren’s bike swapped out at high speed just three kilometres into the stage, throwing the Frenchman on the ground hard. Adrien is reported to have a broken collarbone in the heavy fall.

Adrien Van Beveren Dakar crash 2020

Explaining his day, de Soultrait said: “I’m sad that Adrien has been forced to leave the race because he’s a great rider and we had a well-developed strategy, but difficult things always happen on the Dakar and we have to deal with the consequences. 

“I rode a really great special and did a good job. However, after 350 km, I fell at about 15 kmph, but when I put my hands out to soften the fall I cut my arm. I had to cobble together a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. I’m afraid that the stitches are going to be painful, because I don’t like that sort of thing.”

De Soultrait Dakar 2020 560

Following a fall during the previous day’s racing, Andrew Short was forced to make repairs to his Husqvarna FR 450 Rally, incurring a penalty of 30 minutes and dropping to 17th overall as a result.

Enduro riders making a better fist of it today include Johnny Aubert, Jamie McCanney and Jaime Betriu. Aubert, on his first Dakar for Sherco Factory Team, finish 21st with Jaime Betriu 26th. Jamie McCanney, like Betriu aiming for Rookie class honours in his first Dakar, took his Factory Yamaha to 33rd place on stage after a seven minute time penalty. Lead Rookie so far is Martin Michek in 26th overall.

Dakar Rally stage two winner, Ross Branch, was another rider to suffer a crash and finished down in 45th place. 


Dakar Rally 2020 Stage 3 results:

 Dakar Rally 2020 stage3 rsults top 10

Dakar Rally 2020 provisional results after stage 3:

Dakar Rally Stage 3 results 1
Dakar rally 2020 Stage3 results2

Stage four of the 2020 Dakar Rally will present another long day in the saddle for riders. From Neom, a liaison travelling south along the coast of the Red Sea is then followed by a 453-kilometre timed special that will include a mixture of sandy pistes and faster, gravel tracks. After a total of 672 kilometres, competitors will reach the bivouac at Al-‘Ula.


Full results: Dakar.com/rankings

Photo Credit: Rally Zone
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester