Ricky Brabec, the first American rider to win the Dakar Rally, charged into contention Monday in Stage 2.
Brabec finished second to Monster Energy Honda teammate Joan Barreda by 3 minutes, 55 seconds in the bike division and jumped to second in the overall standings.
But misfortune struck for another American rider. Andrew Short suffered a mechanical problem that he was unable to fix after 273 of 457 km in a lengthy stage from Bisha and Wadi Al-Dawasir.
STAGE 2 HIGHLIGHTS: 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
According to the Dakar Rally site, Short was airlifted from the Saudi Arabian desert by a race organizer helicopter. It’s the first withdrawal at Dakar for Short, who had finished his three previous starts at Dakar (including a best of sixth in 2019 for the former Supercross star) and moved to Yamaha this year.
In an Instagram post, Short wrote that Stage 2 “started off great” before an apparent fuel-related problem after refueling. “I tried everything I had on the bike to get the bike moving again,” he wrote. “So sad to be out of the race, but I know this is racing and especially Dakar. This event is really special, and you work all year for this event. I really enjoyed how difficult and challenging the navigation was this year so far.”
After two of 12 stages in the bikes, Barreda leads by 6 minutes, 23 seconds over Brabec, a Southern Californian who is the defending class winner.
“After a tough day yesterday, where we lost quite a bit of time, with the various problems we had in the first part, we had to give it our all today,” Barreda said after the 25th stage victory of his career. “We knew it would be dangerous so we had to be careful. I managed to stay calm in some tricky situations, and ultimately it was a very good stage.”
Brabec wrote on Instagram that it was a “good day … but as we know, hasn’t been easy start to finding the rhythm.”
Stage 1 winner and two-time Dakar Rally champion Toby Price finished 28th after being the first rider on course and fell from first to 15th overall.
“It was really, really difficult,” Price said of battling through the dunes. “I got stuck in there about 5 times. So yeah, a little frustrating, but you’ve just got to try and regroup, get the bike going.”
Skyler Howes, an American privateer, is ranked eighth (9 minutes, 31 seconds out of the lead) after an 11th in Stage 2.
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 4, 2021
In other divisions Monday:
Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah edged Stephan Peterhansel by 2:35, and defending winner Carlos Sainz finished third.
“Yesterday we lost a lot of time because we opened the stage, and it was so tough,” Al-Attiyah said. “Today we went flat out from start to finish, and everything worked really well.”
Rally legend Sebastien Loeb rebounded from a dismal first stage, finishing sixth to improve to seventh overall. In the overall standings, Peterhansel took a 6-minute, 37-second lead over Sainz, the Stage 1 winner who had engine problems toward the end of the second stage.
Side by sides/lightweight vehicles: Saleh Alsaif took the victory in side by sides over Gerard Farres Guell by 1 minute, 40 seconds. Third-place finisher Francisco Lopez Contardo leads the overall by 39 seconds over Aron Domzala.
Alsaif also triumphed in lightweights. Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, who became the first female stage winner in 15 years Sunday, finished 11th and dropped to fourth overall. Red Bull teammate Seth Quintero of the United States was 10th in the stage (first in light prototypes, making the 18-year-old the youngest winner of a Dakar special) and 10th overall in lightweights.
Quads: Pablo Copetti, a third-place finisher overall in 2017, moved to third overall with a stage victory. Stage 1 winner Alexandre Giroud remained first overall with a 1-minute, 9-second lead over Giovanni Enrico.
Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov won his second consecutive stage and built a 17-minute, 14-second lead over Siarhei Viazovich.
STAGE 1 RESULTS: Carlos Sainz, Toby Price open with victories
Cars: Carlos Sainz (Stage 1), Nasser Al-Attiyah (Stage 2)
Bikes: Toby Price (Stage 1); Joan Barreda (Stage 2)
Side-by-sides: Austin Jones (Stage 1), Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2)
Lightweight vehicles: Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (Stage 1), Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2)
Quads: Alexandre Giroud (Stage 1), Pablo Copetti (Stage 2)
Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov 2 (Stage 1, Stage 2)