The 2020 Dakar Rally served up a mammoth Stage 9 which had competitors on the road for nearly 900km. The trip east from Wadi Al-Dawasir to Haradh included a 415km timed special stage which saw race leaders come under severe pressure.
Here is all you need to know:
- The margins were dramatically squeezed in the car race as front runner Carlos Sainz saw his advantage significantly dented. Sainz has led the general classification since day three, but his cushion is down to a mere 24 seconds following Stage 9.
- Sainz said: “On the first part we lost a little bit of time when we lost the way – we lost five minutes or something like that. After, I don't know what happened... the tread came off the tyre and we had to stop. It was not a good day for us.”
- Reigning car champion Nasser Al-Attiyah is the driver breathing down Sainz’s neck in second overall. Also closing in is Stéphane Peterhansel who set the fastest time today. Peterhansel stays third overall, only 6m 38s behind fellow Mini Buggy driver Sainz.
- Al-Attiyah commented: “It looks like the three cars are very close together. For all three of us, it is possible that one can win the Dakar.”
- Red Bull Off-Road Team USA made it a third consecutive side-by-side stage win and also secured their first 1-2 result of the Dakar. Stage winner Blade Hildebrand was followed home a minute later by team-mate Mitch Guthrie Jr.
- Hildebrand said: “It’s always good to have those days where you can set the pace for the rest of the pack. That’s exactly what we did today.”
- In the general classification, second-placed Chaleco López trails SxS race leader Casey Currie by less than 24 minutes.
- Bike race leader Ricky Brabec was another who was reeled in as the category resumed on Stage 9. Defending champion Toby Price was the among the chasing pack who closed the gap on the way to Haradh. Price is now 26m 43s behind Brabec and has climbed to third overall.
- Price commented: “You have your good moments and you have your bad ones and unfortunately 2020 hasn’t quite been good for us but we’ll still keep giving it a good fight and see how we go.”
- Price’s fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders – Matthias Walkner and Luciano Benavides – were also placed in the top 10 on Stage 9. These results keep Walkner and Benavides sixth and seventh overall respectively.
- Walkner said: “It was really not the best day for me. I didn’t feel so well already at the beginning. I struggled a bit on the rocky and stony tracks with the bike. Then it got a little bit better, but, for sure, it was not one of my best days.”
- Laia Sanz remains the highest-ranked female biker in Saudi Arabia, advancing to 17th overall after another solid stage. “I enjoyed the beginning of the stage because it was more technical. Then after the refuelling it was just flat out, full gas,” she explained.
- Andrey Karginov seems to be marching towards his second Dakar title. The Team Kamaz Master trucker picked up his fourth consecutive stage win. Karginov’s closest competitor, fellow Kamaz trucker Anton Shibalov, is nearly 40 minutes back. Two-time Silk Way Rally winner Dmitry Sotnikov has now joined his Kamaz team-mates in the Top 5 overall.