Cornejo Dominates Stage Two of Dakar 2024; Branch Maintains Overall Lead

The stage win for Jose Ignacio Cornejo moved him into second in the overall standings. Photo: Rally Zone

January 8, 2024

By Score More Staff with Agencies

José Ignacio Cornejo showcased exceptional riding skills to secure his seventh Dakar Rally stage win, propelling him to second place overall, just behind Ross Branch. The thrilling developments unfolded after the second stage of the 2024 Dakar.

Cornejo, known for his prowess in tricky navigation, joined the lead group of Ross Branch and Ricky Brabec early in the stage, taking command and maintaining control throughout the grueling 463-kilometer stretch from Al Henakiyah to Al Duwadimi. This remarkable performance earned Cornejo valuable bonus seconds, despite a minor crash.

Day two at the Dakar Rally presented riders with an extensive 654-kilometer route, testing their mettle with diverse terrain, including fast sandy tracks, rocky pistes, and a challenging 30-kilometer section of dunes.

Cornejo’s Perspective and Bonus System Impact

Cornejo expressed his thoughts on the demanding stage, stating, “It was another tough stage, very long with tricky navigation and tracks everywhere, so it was easy to make mistakes.” He appreciated riding alongside the front group and acknowledged the support of fellow competitors during his crash. The introduction of a new bonus system for 2024 allowed riders within 15 seconds of the leader to benefit. Cornejo made the most of this, accumulating 4 minutes and 14 seconds in bonuses, sharing the spotlight with Branch and Brabec.

Top Performers and Position Changes

  1. Luciano Benavides: The rider tackled the challenging terrain efficiently, securing the fastest time after the first 100 kilometers and finishing as the runner-up. His stellar performance elevated him to the fifth position in the provisional overall rankings.
  2. Pablo Quintanilla: Quintanilla secured a solid third-place finish, contributing to the impressive display by Chilean riders on the expansive dirt tracks.
  3. Sebastian Buhler: Buhler found the day more rewarding than the previous one, achieving a powerful fourth-place finish and advancing two spots in the overall Rally GP class rankings to the 13th position.
  4. Ricky Brabec: The American rider secured the fifth spot, emphasizing the camaraderie among teammates and expressing optimism for the challenging days ahead.

Branch’s Resilience and Overall Standings

Despite a challenging navigation role, Ross Branch maintained his overall lead, finishing just under 6.5 minutes behind the podium. Branch faced early navigational difficulties but recovered later in the stage, preserving a 3-minute lead over Cornejo.

Australian Contingent and Stage Three Anticipation

Toby Price secured the highest finish among Australians, claiming seventh place, while Daniel Sanders, despite a 12th-place finish, advanced to sixth in the overall classification. As the Dakar Rally progresses, riders will face a demanding Stage Three, featuring a 438-kilometer test and a 295-kilometer liaison, encompassing sandy sections, dunes, and rugged terrain. The riders’ resilience and strategic maneuvers promise an enthralling continuation of the 2024 Dakar Rally.

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