Today’s marathon stage rom Haradh to Shubaytah was a tough day in the office for many crews with tricky navigation sections through the ‘Empty Quarter’ of Saudi Arabia. Big dunes, canyons and off-piste expanses and strong winds added dimension to the drama of Stage Ten.
Leading Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) by just 24 seconds, Carlos Sainz (Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team) had his work cut out to keep the hard-charging Qatari behind him. Not too far off, Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team’s Stephane Peterhansel was looking to pounce from 06min behind to leapfrog them both.
With the Cars into the stage, it was these three that sprinted towards the horizon fastest in another three-way race. Sainz, the wily Spaniard, put the hammer down to open a small advantage over the Frenchman and Qatari.
In the meantime, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Fernando Alonso had an awful start to Stage Ten, rolling over down a dune and smashing his Hilux’s windscreen. With no windscreen for the remainder of the stage, Alonso and co-driver Marc Coma battled in the dust and dropped time. Sadly, his pace was so hindered that he dropped over an hour in stage time and that saw him relegated from tenth to fourteenth on the general classification.
Navigation plays an critical role in this event, and this was evidenced in today’s stage: from the 170- to 200-km section, a number of crews wandered off the racing tracks. Included in the lost crews were Peterhansel and Al Attiyah. Al Attiyah saw his 24-second deficit to Sainz disappear as he lost 17 minutes; Peterhansel dropped 12 minutes.
At the 223km stage mark, the event’s organiser halted the stage for safety concerns. Due to adverse weather conditions, the safety helicopters were unable to remain flying and the organisers – who put competitor safety first – halted the stage and all crews liaisoned to the overnight bivouac.
Sainz claimed the stage win by 03min 05sec from Jakub Pryzgonski (Orlen X-Raid Team) and Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing). Had the stage continued, would Peterhansel and Al Attiyah reel back in the lost time?
Peterhansel finished the stage in tenth place, Al Attiyah in 17th and the unfortunate Alonso in 55th place.
Overall, Sainz now has an 18-minute advantage over the rest of the field. That MINI Buggy has shown itself to be reliable, fast and trouble-free with just two stages to contest…
On two wheels, Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda Team 2020) increased his overall race lead to 25min 44sec after today’s shortened stage. He finished it second fastest behind Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Team 2020), and team-mate Kevin Benavides in third to hand their team a fantastic one-two-three result.
The Honda racers have been at the front from Stage One to soundly break KTM’s stranglehold on the Dakar Rally.
Andrey Karginov (Kamaz-Master) extended his overall lead in the general classification to 36min 08sec over team-mate Anton Shibalov and rival Siarhei Viazovich (MAZ-SportAuto) at 01hr 40min 00sec.
General Classifications after Stage Ten
1. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) (Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team): – 37h15m37s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) (Toyota Gazoo Racing): +18m10s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) (Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team): +18m26s
1. Ricky Brabec (USA) Monster Energy Honda Team 2020: – 34h12m18s
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing: +25m44s
3. Joan Barreda (SPA) Monster Energy Honda Team 2020: + 27m09s
1. Andrey Karginov/AndreyMokeev/Igor Leonid (RUS) Kamaz,-Master: 40h20m04s
2. Anton Shibalov/Dmitrii Nikitin/Ivan Tatarinov (RUS) Kamaz-Master: +36m08s
3. Siarhei Viazovich/ Pavel Haranin/Anton Zaparoshchanka (BLR) Maz-SportAuto: +01h40m00s