Dakar 2021: Honda Leads After Another Topsy Turvy Stage.

04 Cornejo Florimo Jose Ignacio (chl), Honda, Monster Energy Honda Team 2021, Motul, Moto, Bike, action during the 8th stage of the Dakar 2021 between Sakaka and Neom, in Saudi Arabia on January 11, 2021 – Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

Who would have guessed that winning a stage in this year’s Dakar is like getting a poisoned chalice. The victory is sweet, but opening the road the next day is so navigationally challenging that chances are you will get lost and lose a bunch of time to your rivals.

After today’s 8th stage, Monster Energy Honda rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo extended his Dakar Rally lead with his first victory in this year’s race. The Chilean had taken the lead of the Saudi Arabian event on Sunday, by just one second from KTM’s Toby Price, and was second on the road for today’s 375km Sakaka-Neom stage behind Honda teammate and defending champion Ricky Brabec.

After initially trailing Price, Cornejo took the advantage at the 307km waypoint and managed to stretch out a lead of 1m05s over the Australian rider by the finish – ending with a lead of 1m06s in the general classification.

American Brabec ended up third, 2m50s off the pace of teammate Cornejo, while KTM’s Sam Sunderland and another Honda rider, Joan Barreda, made up the top five. Sunderland remains third overall, 5m57s off the lead, while fourth-placed Kevin Benavides (Honda) has slipped 12m58s off the lead after dropping three minutes late on.

Fourth overnight, Husqvarna privateer Xavier de Soultrait was forced out of the rally after a crash at the 267km mark. The Frenchman had to be airlifted away from the stage and has been taken to hospital for x-rays. As a result, Barreda is now up to fifth place overall, one place ahead of Brabec, who jumped ahead of fellow American Skyler Howes (KTM) in the standings.

Leaderboard After Stage 8

1Chile Jose Ignacio CornejoHonda32h00m11s
2Australia Toby PriceKTM1m06s
3United Kingdom Sam SunderlandKTM5m57s
4Argentina Kevin BenavidesHonda12m58s
5Spain Joan BarredaHonda16m05s
6United States Ricky BrabecHonda17m42s
7United States Skyler HowesKTM19m20s
8Australia Daniel SandersKTM22m40s
9Spain Lorenzo SantolinoSherco26m59s
10Chile Pablo QuintanillaHusqvarna38m41s