Benavides, second in the stage as the rally reaches the halfway point

Courtesy of Monster Energy Honda Team

Kevin Benavides finished in runner-up spot today on day three of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Monster Energy Honda Team riders are poised to attack from advantageous start positions for tomorrow’s penultimate day of racing.
More dunes and more sand, but the same heat and, from the first hour this morning, the same bothersome wind that has been irritating the riders. The third special was the longest of the entire rally with practically three hundred kilometres against the clock en route through the Liwa desert with certain stretches nearing the Saudi Arabian border. The best of the Monster Energy Honda Team was Kevin Benavides. The Argentine, who took a hard shoulder blow in a fall during yesterday’s stage, set out today intent on pulling back some of the time lost. The rider reached the finish-line, on this the third day of racing, with the second best time of all the riders remaining in the race. As the winner of yesterday’s stage, Nacho Cornejo had to lead the riders out today. The Chilean, whose start preceded that of Joan Barreda, opened the track for several kilometres until his team-mate come out of his wake to take the lead before reaching the refuelling at kilometre 185.8. Later the duo, together with three other riders, finished the special in a group. Barreda posted seventh with Nacho behind him, which places the Spaniard third in the rally’s overall standings. If today was the longest special to be disputed, tomorrow sees the longest stage, once again in the Liwa desert. The fourth day of the race, will include 286 kilometres against the clock, with riders having to complete two liaison sections of 135 and 100 kilometres, both before and after the timed special.
Kevin Benavides STAGE: 2nd  STANDINGS: 4th Obviously, the stage position today leaves me happy, even though I am with a broken rib and with my shoulder injured. I was able to ride a beautiful stage even though the pain persists. At least it made it worth the effort. I am pleased with the way the stage developed. I tried to focus on enjoying the bike and forgetting the insignificant stuff. For me, the goal is clear: finish the race. I want to thank the effort that the team is making right now, in this time of added difficulties.
Joan Barreda STAGE: 7th  OVERALL: 14 It was a positive day. We knew we would be riding ahead and that, in this kind of race here in Abu Dhabi, we would get caught up sooner or later. We kept up a good pace but then they caught us up and kept us in check. It has been a long stage, with many kilometres. The temperatures increased and the toughness of this race was noticeable. Nacho had a very good stage today. Tomorrow we will go back and try to set a good pace and have a good stage.
José Ignacio Cornejo STAGE: 8th  OVERALL: 3rd Until the refuelling I was opening track although Joan was close behind. The following pack regained some time on me. In the second part, the difficulty of riding in the dunes was made greater because of the wind and the others caught me up, to finish all together. We knew that was going to happen because it was inevitable, but I tried to minimize the differences with my rivals. It was good to open the track for most of the day and I navigated well in the dunes holding a good pace. I think I will have a good starting place for tomorrow; We will try to have a good stage.

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