Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides keeps options open in Abu Dhabi
| Kevin Benavides remains on the provisional podium of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge after day three where he opened the track for much of the special stage.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the first round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, reached its halfway point today with the Monster Energy Honda Team still firmly in the battle. In this third of five stages, riders came up against more varied sections of the Liwa Desert: a more technical section at the beginning with huge dunes, many of them cut, before moving on to another much swifter section. The front riders eventually bunched into a group of four who rode the remainder of the stage together.
Kevin Benavides, who started second today, was able to hunt down the rider who opened the course, managing to pull ahead of the field over several kilometres, before being reached by the other riders. Benavides eventually finished third and holds third position in the overall standings.
American Ricky Brabec decided to up the ante today and try to increase speed in spite of the dangerous cut dunes of the Liwa. Brabec posted fourth place, half a minute adrift of his team-mate, but ahead of Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves who had suffered a minor fall whilst taking a jump. The rider got stuck briefly in a dune, dropping some time in the process.
Also improving significantly in terms of speed and desert navigation reading were José Ignacio Cornejo and Michael Metge, sixth and seventh on the day. Both had a complication-free stage.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, sees the penultimate day of this Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Riders look forward to a 372.55 kilometre stage including 244.5 km against the clock.