Mixed bag for Monster Energy Honda on Dakar Day 3

Mixed bag for Monster Energy Honda on Dakar Day 3

Kevin Benavides Dakar Day 3

A more-complicated-than-expected third stage of the 2019 Dakar served up a mixed-bag of results for the Monster Energy Honda Team. Kevin Benavides gave himself a birthday present by climbing the leader board to second overall spot on the same day that team-mate Joan Barreda was forced to abandon the race.

It was double congratulations for Kevin Benavides who was wished happy returns as he headed out from the San Juan de Marcona bivouac on his birthday this morning and again after an excellent stage performance by Argentinean rider when he arrived back.

Benavides had been in the running for the stage victory, but had to settle for third place on the day, 2’37 behind the stage winner. Benavides has now moved up the general rankings to find himself rubbing shoulders with rally’s top guns.

The agenda of the day saw riders set out from the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona to start the first special of the day five kilometres later. The timed section concluded some 264 kilometres later followed by a short two-kilometre liaison section which brought the riders to a second 65-kilometre special. Before arriving back at the camp in Arequipa, it was back in the saddle for a 461-kilometre jaunt to take the mileage to a whopping 800 kilometres.

It proved to be a tough physical test for Paulo Gonçalves who held a swift pace to place a fine sixth on the day. Ricky Brabec suffered the setback of being forced to open the track which led to a 12th place finish.

In stark contrast to Benavides’ excellent stage, Joan Barreda had to make a premature exit from the 2019 Dakar. The Spaniard came across a low visibility foggy and rocky area while opening the track, lost control of the bike which went into a slide down a ravine which  proved impossible to escape from. Barreda’s Dakar had ended at kilometre 143.

Kevin Benavides: “Today was a very long day. I took advantage of having a good starting position to attack. I felt comfortable with the bike, I made some navigational mistakes but in the end it was a good day. I’m happy to climb some positions in the general and I’m gaining confidence every stage. It is not bad to move up to the second position of the general on my birthday.”