Dakar’s tenth stage was a day of contrasts. Yazeed Al Rajhi added another car stage win to Toyota’s 2021 collection ahead of Nasser Al Attiyah and overall leader Stephane Peterhansel, who maintained his 17-minute lead. It was far more dramatic in the motorcycles, however. Overall leader Jose Ignacio Cornejo Flormino took a tumble to retire. He has relinquished the overall lead to Honda teammates Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec, now split by just 51 seconds overall.
The car race was relatively straightforward. Al Rajhi and Dirk von Zitzewitz’ made-in-SA Hilux may have been pipped to the first waypoint by his Saudi compatriot Seadian’s Century. But from there on the home hero dominated as he maintained a two-minute advantage over his pursuers. Al Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel‘s Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux and Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger’s Mini were never more than a few seconds apart behind as they traded places throughout.
But the event remains wide open with 464km awaiting the remaining field from Al Ula to Yanbu. Al-Attiyah warned his rival:
“The key to this Dakar will be on Thursday. It’s a really, really difficult stage.”
Carlos Sainz and Luis Cruz stormed back to fourth in the other Mini ahead of Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalks Hilux and Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro’s Gazoo Hilux. They contributed to driving that team’s puncture count beyond 50 for the race. Vladimir Vasilyev’s 4×4 Mini was seventh from another South African crew, Brian Baragwanath and Taye Perry‘s Century CR6 Corvette and Nani Roma’s BRX Hunter.
“The first part of the stage had very tricky navigation and we lost quite a bit of time. After that, things got better but it was still not easy because of all the dust. We had to get past six or seven cars. It wasn’t easy.”Sainz said
Kuba Przygoński currently lies in fourth overall, which would match his best-ever Dakar finish if he can hold onto it to the finishing line. Ahead of the marathon stage, he said:
“We don’t know exactly what to expect tomorrow but we know it will be hard.”
Shameer Variyawa and Dennis Murphy’s third Gazoo Hilux ended 13th. Overall behind Peterhansel and Al Attiyah, Carlos Sainz remains third an hour adrift and a similar gap ahead of Przygonski. Roma, Al Qassimi’s Peugeot, Vasilyev and de Villiers complete the top eight.
The bike day started with Kevin Benavides leading a Honda 1-2-3-4 over Brabec, Joan Barreda and race leader Florimo, with KTM men Walkner, Sunderland, Sanders and Howes and Yamaha survivor van Beveren in the mix. Benavides lost six minutes later on, allowing Brabec to lead, but Florimo, running second at the time, crashed. He remounted and struggled home, only to be advised to withdraw by the medical team.
“I made quite a few mistakes today which is a bit disappointing,”
“I’m trying to do my best, as is everybody.”said Sunderland.
So Brabec took a 3-minute win over Barreda, Benavides, Skyler Howes, Matthias Walkner, Daniel Sanders, Adrien van Beveren and Sam Sunderland. Overall, van Beveren now leads Brabec who seemed out of contention on Monday; Sunderland, Barreda and Howes. Considering Brabec’s shift forward over the past two days, Sunderland ten, and Barreda 15 minutes off the lead, are still very much in the race. Flormino was listed as third overall, but will not race any further.
Elsewhere in the bike class, Laia Sanz admitted to struggling through a tough day in the saddle.
“I got lost at the beginning,”Laia Sanz
“Then I was behind the quads and the other bikes, nobody would let me past. It was so dangerous. I was completely in dust for 200km.”Laia Sanz
Chaleco Lopez could not pick up a sixth stage win in the lightweight vehicle race but still leads by 10 minutes. Seth Quintero, who had to be towed back to the bivouac because of gearbox trouble on Tuesday, bounced back from arriving at 4.30am to make Wednesday’s start.
Kamaz have got their sights on a second straight Dakar truck win with Dmitry Sotnikov, who took second on the stage, leading teammate Anton Shibalov in second and another Kamaz driver in Ayrat Mardeev lying in third overall.
“The day went well, the main thing is that the team kept the positions in the general classification.”Mardeev said
Overall standings after Stage Nine
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) X-Raid Mini 37h33m06s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Toyota Gazoo +00h17m01s
3. Carlos Sainz (ESP) X-Raid Mini +01h03m44s
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG) Honda 40h20m08s
2. Ricky Brabec (USA) Honda +00h00m51s
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR) Red Bull KTM +00h10m36s
1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz Master 40h57m31s
2. Anton Shibalov (RUS) Kamaz Master +00h47m22s
3. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) Kamaz Master +01h14m42s
1. Chaleco Lopez (CHL) Can-Am 45h39m18s
2. Austin Jones (USA) Can-Am +00h10m13s
3. Aron Domzala (POL) Can-Am +00h42m41s