Honda has taken the lead in the provisional general rankings
Honda has taken the lead in the provisional general rankingsA.S.O./F.Gooden

2024 Dakar Rally Stage 6 halts for the night: Honda leads virtual rankings, Audi 1-2 in cars, Marcelo Medeiros leads, and more updates from the first day

The new 48-hour chrono stage posed a lot of difficulties for the competitors, one of them being a shortage of fuel

New for the 2024 Dakar Rally, Stage 6 consists of a 48-hour chrono stage format, challenging riders with a unique endurance test spanning two days. The new format includes riders and drivers being flagged off at the same time on the first day and directed to return to the closest bivouac at the 4pm deadline, with multiple mid-stage bivouacs accommodating varying arrival times. Teams are prohibited from assisting riders after the initial day, setting the stage for a uniquely demanding and strategic 48-hour Dakar Rally experience. Another unique thing about the Stage was that there were different tracks for bikes and quads, and cars and trucks, adding to the challenge for those on four wheels as they couldn’t take advantage of the tracks being left by riders who would usually leave before them. Over these two days, the bikes would cover 625km and the cars would cover a shorter 547km distance. On top of this, the pro rider grid – Rally GP class was also reversed today. 

Here’s an overview of the first day. Please note that all these rankings are virtual and we will only get to see the full picture once the stage ends tomorrow. We’ve also done a comprehensive review of the performance of team Hero MotoSports’ riders, which you can read here.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage: Bikes

As the starting order was reversed for the first part of the stage in the Rally GP class, yesterday's stage winner, Honda’s Pablo Quintanilla, started 17th and Hero’s Joan Barreda Bort started first as he finished last on the previous day. Honda’s Skyler Howes faced a heartbreaking exit due to mechanical issues. Pablo too faced issues as he ran out of fuel just a few dozen kilometres from the filling-up point. His teammate Ricky Brabec led the provisional rankings after 58km, while Joan Barreda encountered difficulties opening up the track, losing six minutes at the first intermediate point. 

Despite challenges, Brabec maintained his lead, and a fuel crisis added a layer of complexity as many riders reported more than anticipated fuel consumption. Brabec dominated at various points, but his teammate Adrien Van Beveren took the lead after 424km, ultimately leading the stage at the day’s rest point. As the day concluded, Honda’s Brabec seized the top spot in the virtual general rankings, dropping Hero’s Branch to second.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage: Indians at Dakar

Sherco TVS Rally Factory team’s Harith Noah had a relatively good day today, finishing 17th, climbing up from the 21st position where he started the day. 

2024 Dakar Rally Stage: Cars

In the challenging Stage 6 of the 2024 Dakar Rally, featuring a 48-hour Chrono stage, car category competitors faced the daunting task of navigating 547 km through the treacherous dunes. Nasser Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah led the stage at the start as he won yesterday’s race. The day witnessed a series of dramatic events, including overall leader Al Rajhi's unfortunate exit due to a barrel roll and subsequent car damage and Bahrain Raid Xteme’s Stephane Peterhansel facing technical problems, hindering his progress. Audi’s Sainz and teammate Ekstrom demonstrated a remarkable performance at the forefront achieving a 1-2 at the day's end. The altered route, reduced to 547km with a restricted speed section, added complexity to the competition. As the riders headed towards the bivouacs at the end of the first part of the stage, the day concluded with Sainz holding a substantial lead, setting the stage for an intense second day of the 48-hour challenge.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage: Quads

A fierce competition unfolded between Argentine Manuel Andujar (7240 Team/Dragon Rally Sservice) and Frenchman Alexandre Giroud (Yamaha Racing - SMX - Drag'on). Early in the race, Andujar was in the lead, maintaining a slim margin over Giroud, with only a minute separating them at the first intermediate point. Marcelo Medeiros, following his recent victory, was in third place, trailing the leader by just over 4 minutes. However, as the race progressed, the dynamic between Andujar and Giroud intensified, with Giroud initially closing the gap to 45 seconds after 152km and eventually overtaking Andujar after 197km.

The lead seesawed between Andujar and Giroud throughout the day, with each racer taking turns to post the best time at various checkpoints. Andujar managed to regain his lead after 245km, extending it slightly at the 277km mark. However, Giroud, a double title holder, was relentless in his pursuit, reducing Andujar's lead to under a minute after 311km. By the rest point D, after 424km, Giroud had significantly outpaced Andujar, securing a lead of more than 2 minutes.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage: Trucks

Boss Machinery team driver Janus van Kasteren experienced a challenging day, losing his substantial lead from the previous stages. The day began with Eurol Rallysports’ Mitchel Van Den Brink leading at the first checkpoint, closely followed by Martin Macik (MM Technology), with Van Kasteren trailing in third, more than 6 minutes behind. Ales Loprais (Instaforex Loprais Praga), another key competitor, found himself over 13 minutes behind the stage leader, indicating a tough day for him as well. As the race progressed, Martin Macik gained momentum and eventually overtook Van Den Brink, establishing a lead of 3 minutes and 29 seconds after 145 km.

The most significant shift in the rankings occurred with Macik overtaking Van Kasteren in the provisional overall rankings, establishing a lead of 19 minutes over him. This change marked a dramatic turn in the truck race, given Van Kasteren's previous dominance in the rally. With 200 kilometres remaining for the majority of the category's favourites, the competition remains intense and unpredictable, setting up an exciting conclusion to the stage.

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