The ninth special stage of the DAKAR rally marathon ended up with another victory of Andrey Karginov – the Truck classification leader. But today, his rivals have launched a counterattack – the positions in the group of favorites at the special stage finish have been radically different from the previous days of the rally. Sergey VYAZOVICH, the MAZ-SPORTauto team driver, performing with the Gazpromneft – Lubricants support, became the main newsmaker, showing the second result.
The stage passed along the route from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh. More recently, the DAKAR bivouac has been located in the multi-million Riyadh. And today the participants have finished in a small town, where a little more than a hundred thousand people live. But this settlement is one of the oil-producing capitals of the world, because the town stands on the main oil and gas field of Saudi Arabia – Ghawar. This is one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world. There are about 12 billion tons of oil and more than one billion cubic meters of gas at a depth of about two to three kilometers.
The ninth stage led the field closer to the Rub’ al Khali desert – one of the largest deserts in the world; one of the names of this area is the “empty quarter”. The route surface became more rigid and difficult – more than half the distance was soil with stones. The rest was sands, dunes and dunettes. And such a mixed surface nature usually leads to numerous punctures of the wheels – today many participants have suffered from them.
Andrey Karginov, the Truck standings leader, set the best time at the ninth stage – this is the fourth consecutive victory for the KAMAZ-master team driver. However, unlike the previous stages, Sergey VYAZOVICH, performing in the bonneted MAZ truck, has finished the second today.
At the special stage finish, the Belarusian crew gap to the winner was a little bit more than three minutes. Eduard Nikolaev finished with the third time, following VYAZOVICH, but his results are not taken into account in the general classification.
Ales Loprais and Gert Huzink completed Tuesday special stage in the fourth and fifth positions respectively. Dmitry Sotnikov finished after them. Alexey VISHNEVSKY, driving another MAZ-SPORTauto team truck, took the seventh position, followed by Anton Shibalov.
Karginov, Sotnikov and Shibalov have become “victims” of sharp stones today – the latter changed the wheel right on the track, the crew of Dmitry Sotnikov stopped to help his teammates. And at the point of entry to the neutralization zone, the punctured rear wheels were replaced in the trucks of Sotnikov and Karginov.
Alexander VASILEVSKIY, performing as part of the MAZ-SPORTauto team, completed the ninth stage with 11th result.
After nine special stages, Andrey Karginov is continuing to lead the Truck standings. Anton Shibalov is retaining the second position, but his lag behind the leader has grown to 38.5 minutes. Sergey VYAZOVICH is the third. The gap between him and Shibalov narrowed to exactly 13 minutes.
Alexey VISHNEVSKY is occupying the eighth place in the Truck classification; Alexander VASILEVSKY is in the eleventh place, as yesterday.
The most experienced Dutchman Martin van den Brink was unable to finish on Monday, and was forced to retire. Today he has started in the Dakar Experience classification, but he doesn’t have his previous speed anymore – most likely the crew decided to go “to the finish line”.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS WILL FIND TOMORROW
The tenth DAKAR stage is the part of the “super marathon”. It means that after the finish, the field will have to service their sports equipment on their own. At the same time, teammates or even rivals can help the racers, but there will be no mechanics! The spare parts can be used either your own that you need to take on board and travel with them the stage distance (which is overweight), or removed from the cars and motorcycles of other participants.
But this is not the only tomorrow challenge – at the tenth special stage, the DAKAR participants will fight in the Rub’ al Khali desert for the first time; this is one of the largest deserts in the world, located on the Arab Peninsula in the territories of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. The “Empty Quarter” is also one of the hottest flat deserts in the world – for the DAKAR participants luck, it is winter now and the air will not warm up to 70°C, as it happens in summer. Sand dunes up to 300 meters high, plaster plains, gravel and reddish-orange sand – they are very beautiful, but very difficult for racers. For a long time, Rub’ al Khali was considered impassable – tomorrow the DAKAR participants will have to verify the validity of this statement.