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Words: Jehan Adil Darukhanawala
Images: Red Bull Content Pool
Former World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz won the loop stage as he finished a mere 10 seconds ahead of the Mini of Erik van Loon and Mikko Hirvonen. Giniel de Villiers came home in fourth with yesterday’s winner Nasser Al-Attiyah behind him. The Peugeot DKR2008s of Cyril Despres and Stephane Peterhansel finished after the Mini driver. Further worries for Sebastian Loeb as he was stuck several times in the sandy regions of the stage, losing a further hour on the day, finishing 23rd. Sainz took the overall lead from Peterhansel with a healthy margin of over seven minutes. Al-Attiyah remains in contention in third trailing the leading Peugeot by fourteen minutes. Mikko Hirvonen seems to be having a better debut at the rally in fourth with the Toyota trio — de Villiers, Alrajhi and Poulter on his trail. Loeb struggles as the Peugeot man is 13th.
Bike’s leader Toby Price extends his lead as he wins the first part of the marathon stage. American Honda rider Rick Brabec took second ahead of the KTM of Antoine Meo and Stefan Svitko. Paulo Goncalves’ day was marred by a punctured radiator losing over 31 minutes on Price. The Austrian manufacturer KTM is all set to win yet another Dakar as their riders Price and Svitko lead the standings. Price however is nearly 29 minutes ahead of Svitko, who overtook Goncalves overall. Husqvarna’s Qunitanilla remains fourth with KTM rider Meo overtaking Honda’s Benavides for fifth. The Sherco TVS riders have slipped down the order with Alain Duclos and Pedrero Garcia now 15th and 16th.
One of the longest dune section in Dakar history will be undertaken by the racers on Wednesday’s stage 10. Desert specialists will revel as majority of the special stage is off-piste. The stage marks the end of the marathon stage for the bikes. Searing temperatures continue to add to the intensity of the Dakar. The day’s special section will witness a unique start as the ten fastest cars and ten fastest bikes will be set off together.