Dakar: Will Loeb rope in Al-Attiyah?

It is week two of the Dakar and the pursuit of chasing the next competitor is never-ending.

Sébastien Loeb has had his share of mishaps in this Dakar and although Nasser Al-Attiyah has gained a substantial lead in the Hilux, the Dakar is only done when it is done.

Loeb is an experienced and tenacious driver and giving up while there are still stages to go, does not fit his CV.
On the bikes, Luciano Benavides’ Husqvarna took the day. South African riders, Malle Moto leader Charan Moore and second in the rookies Michael Docherty, continued to star.

Cars: Loeb wins stage 9, but Al-Attiyah has a comfortable lead

Tuesday’s 358km stage 9 presented gravel roads and tracks, which inevitably increases the potential for punctures.
It was tight up front with 12 minutes covering the top 20 cars at mid-distance. The field also shuffled significantly through the morning as crews struggled to find the way.

Loeb duly fought Vaidotas Zala off, with Guerlain Chicherit third for a Prodrive 1-2-3 from Mattias Ekstrom’s surviving Audi. Romain Dumas was the first Toyota home in fifth, ahead of Jakub Przygonski’s 4×2 Mini, Giniel de Villiers, Al-Attiyah, Sebastain Halpern’s Mini, and Lucas Moraes in 10th.

Sebastion Loeb.

The Centuries team had a tough day. Brian Baragwanath fought home in 11th as Mathieu Serradori lost 33 minutes. Henk Lategan ultimately dropped 53 minutes.

This means Al-Attiyah now leads the overall standings by just over an hour ahead of Brazilian rookie Lucas Moraes, who has really made an impression thus far. Relentless Loeb’s fourth Dakar 2023 stage win sees him move up to third, a further 28 minutes clear of the hapless Lategan, De Villiers and Dumas making it five SA-built Toyotas in the top 10. Martin Prokop’s Ford Raptor is seventh from Baragwanath’s SA-built 4×2 Century.

The bike competitors did not have an easy ride either

Mason Klein’s KTM, Honda Riders Adrien van Beveren and Pablo Quintanilla, Daniel Sanders’ GasGas,
Botswana’s Ross Branch on his Hero and SA rookie Docherty’s Husqvarna all got lost and tumbled down the day’s order.

That left Toby Price, who started 17th on his Factory KTM, and Husqvarna counterpart Benavides, who set off 21st, traded the stage lead. Husqvarna duo R2 privateer Toni Mulec and overall leader Skyler Howes fought over third and fourth.

Luciano Benavides.

Benavides hung on for the win ahead of Price, Howes, Jose Florimo’s Honda, Kevin Benavides’ KTM and rookie Mulec. Adrien van Beveren ended 12th, Quintanilla 18th, Sanders 20th, SA hero Docherty 21st, Klein 23rd and Branch 28th. Overall, Howes leads Price by just three seconds after 3 000km of racing! Kevin is five minutes back with Quintanilla and Klein more than 15 minutes adrift.

Of the SA riders, Docherty is 20th overall, second of the rookies by nine minutes, and fifth in amateur R2.
HK Husqvarna teammate and compatriot Moore delivered another epic Malle Moto no-service win to open up his lead in the Dakar Original class to over 23 minutes.

Today’s stage 10 is a brutal 114km of sand, sand and more sand. It presents the perfect challenge to turn Dakar on its head.

Source: MotorsportMedia

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