Dakar 2024 – Stage 9 Highlights

DAY 12: Stage 9 – January 16, 2024 – Route: Al Duwadimi > AlUla – Liaison 222km and Special 417km

– The overall leaders were faced with navigation riddles on Tuesday’s Stage Nine, however they defended their positions over the 417-kilometre timed special stage between Ha’il and AlUla through a host of hidden waypoints that made it difficult to keep things on track. Frenchman Sébastien Loeb was back on the power in his Prodrive Hunter and took a total of 4m14s out of Ultimate car leader Carlos Sainz, despite suffering his fair share of misfortune. Loeb, 49, said: “We had two punctures in the middle, so at the end I had to be a bit careful not to have a third one.”

– Elsewhere, the three Audi RS Q e-trons of Sainz, 14-time Dakar champion Stéphane Peterhansel and Sweden’s Mattias Ekström stuck together so they can lend the Spaniard assistance as he holds a 20m33s lead. Three-time winner Sainz, 61, revealed: “I’m happy with the stage, keeping in mind that I opened quite a lot. At the end it was very stressful inside the car when the navigation was very difficult. We rode as three cars together today and that was good. I knew I had some support behind me.”

– Challenger leader Mitch Guthrie Jr. is so far nailing the right balance between protecting his advantage and maintaining crucial race rhythm. The American’s overall cushion was only slightly reduced to 28m35s from Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez, also driving a Taurus T3 Max, who was fourth today. Bullish Gutiérrez, 32, said: “It was a hard day with a lot of navigation and a lot of rocks. Chaleco (López) is pushing hard from the back. I’m happy because we could take some minutes from Mitch (Guthrie Jr.). The car is working perfectly and we still have three days to go.”

– Australian Toby Price finished fourth in the bike category today and the two-time Dakar champion still remains hopeful of edging his way on to the podium despite lying 35m12s back from American leader Ricky Brabec with his fellow Hondas of Ross Branch and Adrien Van Beveren close behind. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Price, 36, said: “I made one little mistake at one waypoint and lost a bit of ground. Glad to to be through it in one piece. It was really hard to see the stones in the sun.”

– Wednesday’s Stage 10 puts plenty more rocks in the way of the convoy as they are tasked with a 371-kilometre loop around the AlUla bivouac as the podium contenders prepare to launch late attacks.

2024 Dakar Rally overall standings after Stage 9
Ultimate Car
1. Carlos Sainz (ESP) 37h 50m 57s
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) +20m 33s
3. Lucas Moraes (BRA) +1h 12m 02s

Challenger Car
1. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) 42h 09m 25s
2. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) +28m 35s
3. Francisco López Contardo (CHI) +36m 48s

1. Ricky Brabec (USA) 40h 53m 49s
2. Ross Branch (BWA) +7m 09s
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA) +11m 26s

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