Dakar Rally, Stage 10: Ricky Brabec wins again, closes within 51 seconds of overall lead

Dakar Rally Stage 10
FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Ricky Brabec surged into a solid position Wednesday for his second consecutive motorbike victory in the Dakar Rally, winning Stage 10 as teammate Nacho Cornejo withdrew after crashing out of the overall lead.

Brabec, who became the first American to win Dakar last year, trails Monster Energy Honda teammate Kevin Benavides by 51 seconds with two of 12 stages remaining in the prestigious off-road raid that is being held in Saudi Arabia for the second consecutive year.

After a slow start in the first week, Brabec has found the pace on the dunes, hills and sand of Week 2.

In his second stage victory this year, the Hesperia, California, native won by more than 3 minutes over Joan Barreda Bort.

Benavides finished fourth, followed by Skyler Howes in fifth.

“Winning is the best thing there is in life,” Brabec said. “Anything less than winning is unacceptable, so we’re going as fast as we can out there and trying to read this (road book) and dodge rocks and go between canyons and dodge camels.

“We’ve got two days left, and tomorrow is going to be a long day, so let’s keep the focus.”

In his daily Instagram update, Brabec said he overcame slick tires and lack of traction and also wished a speedy recovery to Cornejo.

“Still a lot of km to navigate,” Brabec wrote. “Let’s go! #aimforthemoon #shootforthe stars”

Cornejo had entered the stage with a lead of more than 11 minutes over Benavides, but he crashed near the midpoint of the 342-kilometer special.

Cornejo said he just made a mistake by hitting a rock. Though the Chilean tried to continue, he later retired from the race after being diagnosed with a concussion by the Dakar medical team, which had Cornejo airlifted to the hospital for further MRI testing.

“It’s unfortunate for our teammate,” Brabec said of Cornejo. “Obviously racing motorcycles is dangerous, and we know this every time we gear up. We know how dangerous it is.”

Brabec will be the first rider out in Stage 11 with teammates Barreda and Benavides starting directly behind him.

“Unfortunately, if they catch me, I’ll lose time tomorrow, but it is what it is,” said Brabec, who added there are no team orders in play.

It was the second consecutive day that a contender was eliminated in a crash. Toby Price (who posted a surgery update from the hospital Wednesday) fell out in Stage 9.

Howes, meanwhile, continued his underdog bid to win the Dakar despite limited funding.

The St. George, Utah, resident is the highest-ranked privateer in the bike division after his third top-five stage finish. Howes is 29 minutes, 38 seconds off the lead.

“Today the navigation was quite difficult,” Howes said. “I learned my lesson yesterday and toned it down quite a bit about 5-10% slower on my speed, so it worked out in my favor.

“I nailed the navigation, so today was really rocky and easy to get caught up. My tire’s pretty bald now, so it’s really hard to stop and accelerate, so we took it easy today, and it worked out with no crashes and a clean stage.”

In other divisions Wednesday:

Cars: Yazeed Al Rajhi overcame a late tire puncture to win his second stage, finishing 2 minutes 4 seconds ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah. Third-place finisher Stephane Peterhansel maintained a 17-minute overall lead over Al-Attiyah.

“The pressure is on constantly from morning to evening,” Peterhansel said. “The best position is that of the leader. There’s more pressure on the one who has everything to lose. When you’re the leader, you have a lot more to lose than when you’re the hunter. But I prefer my position.”

Peterhansel is the winningest competitor in Dakar history. The Frenchman has 13 overall victories, six on a bike. His most recent in a car was in 2017

Side by side UTVs (SSV)/lightweight/light prototypes: Sergei Kariakin won his first stage, beating Austin Jones by 29 seconds. Jones rebounded from a series of tire punctures in a  disappointing Stage 9 as the American moved into second overall, trailing Francisco Lopez Contardo by just over 10 minutes.

“Took care of the car really well, didn’t get any punctures, no problems,” Jones said. “So the stage really suited me. Super happy about being P2 overall now.”

In the light prototypes division, Josef Machachek held the overall lead. Seth Quintero, who won five of the first eight stages, fell to sixth overall after the American was hampered by a broken gearbox.

Quads: Pablo Copetti took the stage victory over Italo Pedemonte. Third-place finisher Manuel Andujar maintained a 21-minute lead overall.

Trucks: Martin Macik won his second consecutive stage, finishing 1 minute, 40 seconds ahead of overall leader Dmitry Sotnikov.

STAGE 1 RESULTSCarlos Sainz, Toby Price open with victories

STAGE 2Ricky Brabec jumps to second; Andrew Short withdraws

STAGE 3American privateer Skyler Howes takes lead

STAGE 4Four Stages, four bike winners; Al-Attiyah wins three consecutive in cars

STAGE 5Kevin Benavides new leader in bikes

STAGE 6: Toby Price retakes the lead; Peterhansel distances the competition

STAGE 7Ricky Brabec captures first victory; Skyler Howes third

STAGE 8: Austin Jones takes overall lead in side by sides

STAGE 9: Toby Price retires after heavy crash; Peterhansel wins


Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah 4 (Stages 2, 3, 4, 8); Carlos Sainz 2 (Stage 1, 6); Yazeed Al Rajhi 2 (Stage 7, 10); Giniel de Villiers (Stage 5); Stephane Peterhansel (Stage 9)

Bikes: Joan Barreda 3 (Stage 2, 4, 6); Toby Price 2 (Stages 1, 3); Kevin Benavides 2 (Stage 5, 9); Ricky Brabec 2 (Stage 7, 10); Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Stage 8)

Side-by-sides: Francisco Lopez Contardo 5 (Stage 3, 5, 7, 8, 9); Austin Jones (Stage 1); Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2); Aron Domzala (Stage 4); Khalifa Al Attiyah (Stage 6), Sergei Kariakin (Stage 10)

Lightweight prototypes: Seth Quintero 5 (Stage 2, 3, 5, 6, 8); Cristina Gutierrez Herrero 3 (Stage 1, 7, 9); Kris Meeke (Stage 4)

Quads: Alexandre Giroud 3 (Stage 1, 6, 8); Nicolas Cavigliasso 2 (Stage 3, 5); Manuel Andujar 2 (Stage 4, 7); Pablo Copetti 2 (Stage 2, 10); Giovanni Enrico (Stage 9)

Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov 4 (Stage 1, 2, 4, 7); Martin Macik 2 (Stage 9, 10); Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 3); Andrey Karginov (Stage 5); Airat Mardeev (Stage 6); Anton Shibalov (Stage 8)

Watch highlights from Stage 10 of the Dakar Rally on NBCSN at 2:30 a.m. ET Thursday.

Ricky Brabec powered his Honda to victory during Stage 10 of the Dakar Rally (FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images).

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.