Sports Desk, Jan 10 (efe-epa).- Chilean rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Monster Energy Honda) on Sunday moved up to the top of the Dakar Rally general classification in the motorbikes, while French driver Stéphane Peterhansel consolidated his overall lead in the cars category.
Cornejo came second to defending champion Ricky Brabec of the United States Rally in the 737-km seventh stage that stretched between Ha’il and Sakaja, clocking two minutes and seven seconds off the pace.
It was enough for the Chilean to snatch the first spot of the general classification from the grasps of Australia’s Toby Price (KTM) seven legs into the 12-stage race with a one-second lead.
The Chilean rider thus cements his status as one of the contenders to win the race, held in Saudi Arabia for the second year in a row.
The competition in the general classification became tighter as only a second separates Cornejo from Price, with Briton Sam Sunderland (+2:11) and Xavier De Soultrait of France (+2:34) nipping at their heels in third and fourth spots respectively.
In fifth place came Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, after a bad performance on Sunday, seven minutes and 29 seconds off the pace.
Spaniard Joan Barreda (Honda), who claimed the previous stage, has to settle for the 14th spot on Sunday’s race as he was eight minutes and 57 seconds slower than the US rider. He came sixth in the general classification.
In the cars category, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed al-Rajhi (Overdrive Toyota) denied Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel (X-Raid Mini JCW) his maiden 2021 edition stage win thanks to a 48 seconds lead.
Although the victory eluded him once again on Sunday, 13-time champion Peterhansel strengthened his grip on top of the general classification.
He increased his lead over second-placed Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar to seven minutes and 53 seconds.