Four days of racing remain in the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia and plucky South African racers have been pushing hard through various obstacles to secure satisfactory finishes.
Tuesday’s stage 9 features 287 km of racing in a loop around Wadi Ad-Dawasir, and it will start later than usual to keep stragglers from Monday in the game, as it were, according the gruelling race’s organisers.
Monday’s stage 8 was a 395 km run in a southerly direction from central Al Dawadimi to Wadi Ad Dawasir and featured plenty of sand and dunes.
Hybrid car wins stage 8
The stage was won by Sweden’s Mattias Ekstrom in an Audi hybrid car, while Qatari star Nasser Al-Attiyah from Toyota Gazoo Racing saw his overall lead reduced to 38 minutes from France’s Sebastien Loeb (BRX).
As for South African drivers, Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo) sits seventh overall, Shameer Variawa (Toyota Gazoo) 13th, Brian Baragwanath (Century Racing) 16th, Henk Lategan (Toyota Gazoo) 33rd, Ernest Roberts (Century Racing) 35th and Christiaan Visser (Century Racing) is out of the mix.
Monday’s stage saw De Villiers place ninth, Variawa 12th, Baragwanath 27th, Lategan fifth and Roberts 41st.
Century Racing have placed 10 vehicles with racers from various countries in the punishing rally to mark the motorsport company’s 10th year of operations, while Toyota Gazoo Racing has a South African base, as well.
The latter also sponsors the daily race highlights package on SuperSport.
Sunderland surges ahead
In the bikes section, Britain’s Sam Sunderland (GasGas) won yesterday’s stage and heads the overall standings by less than four minutes from Austria’s Matthias Walkner (Red Bull KTM).
In terms of South African bikers, KwaZulu-Natal rookie Bradley Cox (Bas Dakar KTM) has been going along steadily and sits 18th overall, one behind compatriot Aaron Mare (Hero Motosports). Stuart Gregory (self-funded) lies 68th overall, Charan Moore (self-organised) 37th and Werner Kennedy (self-funded) 97th.
In Monday’s stage, Cox placed 16th, Mare 21st, Moore 44th, Gregory 83rd and Kennedy 106th.
The famous rally’s 44th edition concludes on Friday after 12 stages in the Arabian kingdom, which were divided by a rest day last Saturday.