Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin (Hunter) won the tenth stage for the cars in the Dakar on Wednesday. It is their third consecutive victory, their fourth of this Dakar. In his career, Loeb already has twenty stage victories in this desert rally.
Mattias Ekström (Audi), the only remaining Audi in the race, finished second at 3:04. Third place went to Lucas Moraes (Toyota), who had to give up 5:22 to Loeb, who remains in third place, but has narrowed the gap to the Brazilian to 15:49. Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) finished fourth and remains an authoritarian leader.
Carlos Sainz (Audi) did not start the Dakar on Wednesday. The three-time winner crashed after 5km on Tuesday after which he gave up and was flown to hospital by helicopter. On the way, the Spaniard changed his mind, returned to his car and drove to the bivouac in Haradh. Upon inspection of the Audi, it was determined that the damage was irreparable. After Peterhansel, Sainz, the second Audi driver and candidate overall winner, disappears. Audi still has one driver in the race with Ekström. The Swede was on an anonymous 27th place on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, the Swede did participate for the stage victory, but in the end he has to let Sébastien Loeb go ahead. The Frenchman is, despite the bad luck during the first days, working on a strong Dakar. Loeb and Lurquin are determined to move up at least one more place in the standings. Keeping up with al-Attiyah seems unlikely. “We have a big lead. I hope to finish the race and win,” said Al-Attiyah before the start of the stage. The Qatari may no longer be involved in the battle for stage wins and will try to control the course as he did on Wednesday.
Pierre Lachaume and François Beguin (Optimus) continue to perform strongly. The duo finished tenth on Wednesday and will probably make progress in the standings.
Second stage win for Branch
Ross Branch (Hero) was the best on Wednesday morning in the Dakar in the tenth stage with the motorcycles. For the Botswana it is his second stage victory in this Dakar. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) finished 21 seconds behind. The South African Michael Docherty (Husqvarna) finished half a minute. Kevin Benavides (KTM) finished fourth to take the lead in the standings from Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) who finished 17th at 7:38 from stage winner Ross Branch.
The first ride in the Empty Quarter took place on Wednesday. It was a short but tough stage of 114 kilometers. Joan Barreda (Honda) had to retire after a crash in the ninth stage. The Spaniard was flown to hospital where an examination revealed that he had suffered a fracture in the second vertebra. “It is very unfortunate to have to stop the Dakar,” the Spaniard wrote on Instagram. “We started the stage today with the idea of taking the race to our advantage. We were in a good position and had a good chance on the podium. But the desert is unforgivable. We’ve tried.”
Ross Branch started 28th and led from start to finish. In the end he won the stage 21 seconds ahead of Adrien Van Beveren and half a minute ahead of Michael Docherty. Kevin Benavides finished fourth, 1 minute behind the stage winner. The Argentinian was 6:38 faster than Skyler Howes and takes the lead after ten stages. The winner of 2021 will have a bonus of 1:29 on Skyler Howes in the standings. Toby Price (KTM) is third at 2:10.
Belgian Jérome Martiny (Husqvarna) finished 41st at 29:10. Martiny moves up to 34th place in the standings.