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Dakar 2021: Cornejo opens 11-minute lead after Price crash

Monster Honda’s Jose Cornejo opened an 11 and a half minute lead over the Dakar pack on stage nine after closest rival Toby Price crashed out.

Cornejo’s team now occupy the top three spots on the overall ranking with Kevin Benavides in second and Joan Barreda in third, 29 minutes down. The closest non-Honda rider is Red Bull KTM’s Sam Sunderland in fourth, a minute adrift of Barreda.

“Today was tough, it was always going to be a long day and it was. Toby started right behind me. We were fighting for the overall victory and it’s very bad that he crashed and got injured,” said Cornejo.


“I hope it’s nothing serious. That’s the last news we want to hear, that one of us has crashed or is out of the race. Toby’s a legend, he’s a very good rider and also a very nice guy, so I wish him a fast recovery. Hopefully he’ll be right back on the bike soon. Today I had to open the whole way. It was tough.

“They let me know at the first refuelling point that Toby had crashed and I lost focus a little bit and made a few mistakes, but other than that I did a good job. All day pushing by myself was mentally exhausting. It needed a lot of self-motivation and self-conversation to keep going.

“We’ll see how the guys behind me have done. Hopefully they haven’t caught too many minutes on me and hopefully I’ll increase the overall lead a little bit, but we’ll see. Everyone is starting to push, to play their last cards, to try to advance or to get overall victory.

“Everyone wants it, you know, so I understand them. When you push to the limit, sometimes you make mistakes and this discipline is just like that. You have to be careful and try to control the danger as much as you can, but sometimes too many things happen: rocks, you’re navigating, going fast… it’s tough to finish without any crashes.”

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