World Rally-Raid Championship

Jose Ignacio Cornejo departs Monster Energy Honda

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Credit: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

José Ignacio Cornejo has split with Monster Energy Honda Rally Team after six years with the organisation, he announced Wednesday.

After originally withdrawing from the 2018 Dakar Rally due to financial issues, Cornejo was asked by Honda to fill in as a last-second replacement for the injured Paulo Gonçalves. Despite only having one prior Dakar start in 2016 as a privateer, where he failed to finish, he immediately capitalised by finishing tenth overall and earned himself a permanent seat with the outfit for 2019 onwards. Now a factory rider, his performance continued to improve over the next few years, topping out at fourth in 2020 with a pair of stage victories. He had another two-win outing two years later and placed sixth.

Before joining Honda, he was the 2016 FIM Cross-Country Rallies Junior World Champion (predecessor to the current World Rally-Raid Championship). He finished sixth in both the inaugural W2RC RallyGP standings in 2022 and the following year’s slate.

His final start with HRC, January’s season-opening Dakar Rally, saw him finish sixth overall with a career high three stage victories in Stages #2, #4, and #7; the three wins led the RallyGP class as Hondas claimed seven of twelve legs. He and the team did not enter the next W2RC round in Abu Dhabi. Cornejo is currently fifth in the standings, trailing Ross Branch by thirty points.

“I came to this team as a junior with a lot of dreams, being a waterboy in Dakar 2018, and today I say goodbye as an experienced rider, winning stages, and fighting for podiums and wins,” wrote Cornejo. “I want to thank to every teammate, engineers, mechanics, physios and professionals of the team, it has been an honor for me, I met and worked with people and riders that I used to see in the magazines when I was a kid, and most of them today I can call friends. I hope I left a mark and good memories in every person I worked with. I made friendships that will last through the years, and I’ll carry all the memories in my heart and mind, thanks for everything.”

Cornejo did not immediately reveal his future plans, but noted he has already found a new team. Honda also has yet to announce his successor; they already field bikes for five other riders in Dakar winner Ricky Brabec, Adrien Van Beveren, Skyler Howes, Pablo Quintanilla, and Tosha Schareina.

The next W2RC round, the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in Portugal, begins 3 April.

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