The Dakar Rally launched its second week with Stage 9, that brought the competitors to the edge of the Empty Quarter desert. It is these mighty sand dunes that will ultimately decide who gets the glory at this edition of the world’s most brutal rally. Let’s see how things stand after another punishing day at the Dakar…
The second week of this Dakar started with immediate changes to the overall car race podium. A tough opening week had seen Sebastien Loeb’s chances of a first Dakar win suffer a serious dent. However, the nine-time WRC winner and co-driver Fabian Lurquin are fighting back and a stage win Tuesday put their Prodrive BRX Hunter back in podium position, in third overall.
There was also a move up the general classification today for rookie Lucas Moraes and co-driver Timo Gottschalk in their Toyota Hilux. Moraes’s first week at the Dakar couldn’t have gone much better, now his second week has started with him moving up to second overall.
Still way out in front in the car race are defending champions Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel. Another faultless drive on Stage 9 enabled Al-Attiyah stretch his advantage in the general classification to 1h21m 57s.
“We must respect the route and give everything we have to overcome the remaining five stages. We have our lead because we kept our concentration throughout the first week,” noted Al-Attiyah.
There was another setback for Team Audi Sport and in particular the race crew of Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz. The duo’s Audi RS Q e-tron E2 flipped over on the dunes just five kilometers in and was unable to complete the day’s course.
In the bikes, it’s clear that Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price used the Rest Day to recharge his batteries. The two-time Dakar bike race winner finished second to Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides and is now just three seconds off the overall lead, held by America’s Skyler Howes, also on a Husqvarna.
Joining Price on the overall podium position is KTM’s Kevin Benavides. The Argentinian is just five minutes off the lead as he hunts a second Dakar bike race title.
Overall T3 race leader Guillaume De Mevius extended his lead at the front of the category. De Mevius and co-driver François Cazalet even got the chance to test their OT3 against a race truck on the route out of Riyadh.
There wasn’t much movement on the T3 leaderboard behind De Mevius on Stage 9. The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich crews of Austin Jones/Gustavo Gugelmin and Seth Quintero/Dennis Zenz remain second and third respectively.
Rokas Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Vidal of the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team still lead the T4 class, their advantage now standing at over five minutes. The 23-year-old Lithuanian driver is another in the Dakar convoy who is looking forward to the dunes of the Empty Quarter.
Selected Overall Standings after Stage 9
T1 Car Class
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) TOYOTA 34:19:20
2. Lucas Moraes (BRA) TOYOTA +01:21:57
3. Sebastien Loeb (FRA) BRX +01:43:08
5. Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) TOYOTA +02:04:17
T3 Lightweight Prototype
1. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) OT3 39:41:11
2. Austin Jones (USA) CAN-AM +12:43
3. Seth Quintero (USA) CAN-AM +01:13:12
4. Chaleco Lopez (CHL) CAN-AM +02:46:24
5. Cristina Gutierrez (ESP) CAN-AM +03:19:13
8. Ignacio Casale (CHL) YAMAHA +07:34:05
26. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) MCE5 +24:35:13
1. Rokas Baciuska (LTU) CAN-AM 41:16:37
2. Eryk Goczal (POL) CAN-AM +05:02
3. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) CAN-AM +09:17
1. Skyler Howes (USA) HUSQVARNA 33:55:57
2. Toby Price (AUS) KTM +00:03
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG) KTM +05:09
9. Daniel Sanders (AUS) GASGAS +23:47