Benavides replaces quitter Cornejo on top, Peterhansel leads

Sports Desk, Jan 13 (efe-epa).- A crash put an end to Chilean rider José Ignacio Cornejo’s solid Dakar Rally run in the motorbike category, now led by Argentine Kevin Benavides, while Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel hung onto the cars’ category overall lead.

Heading into the tenth stage, Cornejo was over 11 minutes clear of his closest competitor, taking advantage of his then main rival Australia’s Toby Price’s crash, but yet another misfortune shifted the balance of power against him.

The crash, which occurred with nearly 100 km to go on the special course, didn’t appear serious as he managed to complete the stage stretching between Saudi Arabia’s Neom  and al-Ula.

Afterwards, however, Cornejo quit the race.

“He was not feeling well. He’s going to be examined by the medical team and has decided to abandon the race,” the Dakar Rally said on its Twitter account.

The crash allowed Benavides to reclaim the top spot in the general classification 51 seconds ahead of the defending champion Ricky Brabec, who earned on Wednesday his second stage win this edition, and Brabec won the seventh stage.

“I’m sure Nacho has a lot of pressure. Leading the Dakar is not easy. I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure from the team, but for a personal goal I think he has a lot of pressure,” said Brabec.

“He’s the best navigator at this rally. We all know we all wanna win. Winning is the best thing there is in life,” he added.

Briton Sam Sunderland is still third in the general classification, more than 10 minutes off the pace.

In the cars’ category, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed al-Rajhi took the contenders by surprise to finish the tenth stage ahead of Qatari driver Nasser al-Attiyah and Peterhansel respectively despite the adversaries.

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