Nacho Cornejo takes a leap forward in the penultimate stage of the Dakar

Courtesy of Monster Energy Honda Team

Chilean rider Nacho Cornejo climbed to sixth place in the general rankings of the 2019 Dakar Rally in the ninth and penultimate stage.
Day nine of the 2019 Dakar took place in the area around Pisco, once again with a motocross-style mass start with riders setting off in waves of ten. 90% of the route was off-piste with half the special in the dunes and the second half of the 313-kilometre stage battled out over harder terrain. Monster Energy Honda Team’s top rider proved to be Nacho Cornejo. The Chilean got off to a swift, yet cautious start, but was able to push hard in the dunes, producing a performance that ranked among the best times of the day. Nacho’s sixth place on the stage meant the rider moves up to sixth overall. Kevin Benavides came out guns blazing and opened the track for much of the special. A hard-to-locate waypoint caused the first wave of riders to reach the leading group and narrow the times down even further. Benavides eventually posted twelfth, 4’14” behind the stage winner. The final stage of the 2019 Dakar takes place tomorrow, Thursday and will include a timed special stage of 112 kilometres. Riders will then have to complete a liaison section that will bring them to the Magdalena beach in Lima, where the rally concludes. SANCTION TO KEVIN BENAVIDES
Kevin Benavides was sanctioned yesterday with a 3:00’00 penalty after race authorities deemed that the rider had violated one of the new rules established for the race. The team is currently gathering all the necessary information to present an official claim against the sanction.
José Ignacio Cornejo  10 STAGE: 6th  OVERALL: 6th In this penultimate stage there was a mass start, so we were all pretty close together all day. As a consequence there was a lot of dust and we had to keep a distance so that it wasn’t so dangerous. In the dunes we all got together again and lost a few minutes looking for several complicated waypoints, but I was happy to see how quickly we solved the navigation problems. I’ve continued climbing positions in the general standings, and now I’m sixth which I’m happy about. Tomorrow is the last day and I will try to set the same pace as I have over recent day.
Kevin Benavides  47 STAGE: 8th  OVERALL: 12th The truth is that today was difficult to start, as I was affected by the sanction given to me yesterday. I tried to get it out of my head and start from scratch. I opened the track most of the day and several of the riders grouped together. In the end there were some complicated waypoints and the riders of the second group starting catching us up. It was a good stage to finish on a high note. Honda has done things well, so let’s finish the race and see what happens.
Raul Castells Monster Energy Honda Team Manager Today was a very good stage for Nacho that has helped him climb to sixth position in the general standings which is great. The race is not over yet. Tomorrow will be the final stage, it will be short but it will serve to decide the final positions. We know what we have done well and what we have not, but there have not been any big mistakes. The team is working very well and tomorrow we will try to finish the Dakar as best we can.

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