Giniel de Villiers led the way as Toyota captured a 1-2-3 sweep in Stage 9 of the 2022 Dakar Rally.
The South African driver was able to grab the lead at the third checkpoint of the 287-kilometer (178.334-mile) run near Wadi Ad Dawasir. From there, he managed the gap before finishing 9s ahead of countryman Henk Lategan. Overall leader and three-time Dakar Rally champion Nasser Al-Attiyah finished 1m04 behind the top spot in third.
“It looks good,” de Villiers said. “We had a nice clean stage today. I must say that the mechanics worked really, really hard last night because we had a problem with the dampers over the last two days or so. But they did a great job and the car was just unbelievable today. Really nice to drive, so we could push nicely. We had one slow puncture on the front left about fifty kilometers from the end, but it managed to hold out and now we’re very happy, very happy for the team.”
Mattias Ekstrom backed up his Stage 8 victory with a fourth-place effort, while Sebastien Loeb finished fifth.
“We did a good stage, I think,” said Loeb, driver of the No. 211 Bahrain Raid Xtreme entry. “We pushed hard, from the start to the end. There were no mistakes with the navigation, but one little puncture where I tried to be a bit aggressive in the stones because I need(ed) to regain some time. So we had to change the wheel, but apart from that we drove a clean stage without problems.”
Stage 9 – 🚗
🥇 Giniel de Villiers
🥈 Henk Lategan
🥉 Nasser Al-Attiyah
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 11, 2022
Currently second overall, Loeb is 39m05s behind Al-Attiyah with only three stages remaining.
It was another strong day for Seth Quintero in the light prototype class.
The 19-year-old American finished 2m20s ahead of Spain’s Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, and now sits one victory away from tying the record of 10 stage wins set by Pierre Lartigue during a 17-stage Dakar in 1994.
“We’ve got a few stages to go and we need a few more (wins) to break the record, so hopefully we can get them and click that record off,” Quintero said. “Cristina is a very fast, consistent and smooth driver. She really doesn’t make any mistakes so it’s not going to be easy for us to try to break that record. There are 50 other people in this class that can obviously win the race. Everyone in this class is a stellar driver. It’s definitely not going to be easy, but I hope that we can get it done. We need 10 to tie the record and 11 to break it.”
Stage 9 – ⚙️ LW Prototype
🥇 Seth Quintero
🥈 Cristina Gutierrez
🥉 Chaleco Lopez
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 11, 2022
Francisco Lopez Contardo finished the stage third, and holds the overall class lead by 1h19m51s over Sebastian Eriksson.
In bikes, Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo took the stage win by 1m26s over Kevin Benavides. They were trailed by American and 2020 Dakar winner Ricky Brabec in third, who finished 1m47s off the lead.
Mattias Walkner finished fourth and took back the overall lead of the class from Sam Sunderland. Walkner’s is 2m12s ahead of Sunderland, and 3m56s ahead of Adrien Van Beveren.
If there is one category that might hold promise for a potential American claiming victory it’s in SSV with Austin Jones, who extended his overall lead of the category to 13m47s after a runner-up finish on Tuesday.
Polish driver Marek Goczal took the day’s win ahead of Jones, with Michal Goczal claiming third.
Dakar Rally standings after Stage 9:
CAR RACE TOP 5
- N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) TOYOTA 30:10:04
- S. LOEB (FRA) BRX +39:05
- Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) TOYOTA +58:44
- O. TERRANOVA (ARG) BRX +1:36:09
- G. DE VILLIERS (ZAF) TOYOTA +1:45:01
BIKE RACE TOP 5
- M. WALKNER (AUT) KTM 30:14:03
- S. SUNDERLAND (GBR) GAS GAS +02:12
- A. VAN BEVEREN (FRA) YAMAHA +03:56
- P. QUINTANILLA (CHL) HONDA +04:41
- K. BENAVIDES (ARG) KTM +10:22
TRUCK RACE TOP 5
- D. SOTNIKOV (RUS) KAMAZ 32:43:53
- E. NIKOLAEV (RUS) KAMAZ +08:51
- A. SHIBALOV (RUS) KAMAZ +41:18
- A. LOPRAIS (CZE) PRAGA +1:32:57
- A. KARGINOV (RAF) KAMAZ +1:47:30
LIGHTWEIGHT PROTOTYPE (T3) TOP 5
- F. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) CAN-AM 35:47:12
- S. ERIKSSON (SWE) CAN-AM +1:19:51
- F. ALVAREZ (ESP) CAN-AM +3:06:21
- C. GUTIERREZ HERRERO (ESP) RED BULL +4:53:51
- P. LEBEDEV (RAF) MSK 5:00:27