18:11 A superb comeback by Checa
Danilo Petrucci, victorious yesterday, is not the only former Moto GP rider to distinguish himself on the rally. Today, Carlos Checa, a former 500cc/MotoGP and WorldSBK rider, took his turn in the spotlight. The most recent WorldSBK champion to date behind the handlebars of a Ducati is tackling his very first Dakar behind the wheel of an Optimus MD powered by a Chevrolet V8 engine. For the moment, “El Toro” has especially met with misfortune, even rolling his vehicle during stage 3. His team worked relentlessly to repair the car and, after missing out on stages 4 and 5, the Spaniard was back on the tracks today and what a return it was! Assisted by his co-pilot Ferran Marco, he reached the finishing line in 28th position, only 18 minutes behind the stage winner (and in front of Sébastien Loeb).
17:47 Penalty rescinded: De Villiers at the foot of the podium
Giniel De Villiers, a pretender for a podium finish, had received two penalties. The first five-minute penalty was for having knocked into a biker on stage 1B and the second, totalling 5 hours, was for having driven over a bike when jumping off a dune. For the second incident, the South African has always claimed it was an accident. He requested that his case be reviewed and, following in-depth analysis of the circumstances, it turns out that the biker whose machine was damaged had just fallen off several seconds before De Villiers arrived on the scene. The South African driver only had one course of action possible which was to avoid the rider… at the expense of his bike. In light of these new elements, the race officials have decided to rescind the penalty. As a result, De Villiers climbs back up the general rankings and is now in 4th place, 51 minutes behind his team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah and immediately behind Sébastien Loeb.
13:41 Han devant Al-Attiyah
More than thirty drivers have now reached the finishing line and Wei Han has sprung a surprise by placing his SMG in front of the Toyota driven by Nasser Al-Attiyah, completing the special almost six minutes behind Orlando Terranova. Han boasts the best result by a Chinese driver on the Dakar, with a 10th place in 2020, and repeated the feat last year, before running into mechanical problems preventing him from doing better. For 2022, he is assisted by Li Ma, his new co-pilot, with the firm intention of making a difference, which is what they are doing at the moment!
12:24 Loeb set to lose second place in the general rankings
Unless a time penalty changes the situation, Sébastien Loeb will drop town into third place in the general rankings by six seconds. Yazeed Al Rajhi moves into second place, 50’19’’ behind Nasser Al-Attiyah who is starting to soar away.
12:18 Audi and Toyota also on the podium
After Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz, Mattias Ekstrom is the third of the Audi Sport clan’s representatives to climb onto the stage podium this year. The Swede has finished one minute behind the Prodrive driven by Orlando Terranova, a team-mate of Sébastien Loeb and Nani Roma with BRX. Yazeed Al Rajhi, who stopped to help Yasir Seaidan yesterday following an accident, has finished on the third step of the podium.
12:11 Terranova reacquaints himself with victory
Orlando Terranova has tasted victory on the day’s special. Among the most experienced drivers on the Dakar, the Argentinean has triumphed again on the rally for the first since 2015.
11:56 Loeb softens the blow
On completion of the stage, Sébastien Loeb has taken advantage of Nasser Al-Attiyah’s time losses on the final part of the special to only concede 15 minutes to the Qatari in the general rankings. Al-Attiyah has lost four minutes to Yazeed Al Rajhi, who has provisionally taken the top finishing position. To discover the outcome of this stage, it is now necessary to await Orlando Terranova’s arrival at the finishing line.
11:42 Al-Attiyah reaches the finish, Terranova still on the special
Nasser Al-Attiyah has reached the finishing line, but the Toyota driver, who had lost almost 5 minutes at the previous time check point, is unlikely to win the day’s special. That distinction should go to Orlando Terranova whose arrival is expected soon.
11:32 Variawa in fifth!
Henk Lategan’s victory yesterday has no doubt inspired Shameer Variawa, his team-mate with Gazoo Racing. The South African (yet another!) occupies fifth place after 259 km, two minutes behind the stage leader. With 27 years’ experience behind the wheel, Variawa is not just any old driver…
11:27 Baragwanath is on form
After having earned his stripes in the quad category (finishing third in 2016 with two victories), Brian Baragwanath debuted in the car category last year. The Century driver is making rapid progress because he occupies fourth place after 259 km, less than two minutes behind Orlanda Terranova, the new leader of the day’s special. After Henk Lategan yesterday, there may be another South African victory today!
10:58 Sanz only 8 minutes behind
Laia Sanz, who is taking part in her first Dakar on four wheels in a Mini, occupies 21st place after 190 km, 8’09’’ behind Nasser Al-Attiyah, which is a fine performance after having lost almost one hour due to a broken suspension wishbone two days ago!
10:54 Al Rajhi slips back, Al-Attiyah retains control
Yazeed Al Rajhi has lost more than three minutes after 190 km. Orlando Terranova has replaced him in second place, a little more than a minute behind the Toyota driven by Nasser Al-Attiyah. Mattias Ekstrom has put the leading Audi on the special into third place, two minutes behind Al-Attiyah.
10:16 Loeb loses 25 minutes!
The gap between Sébastien Loeb and Nasser Al-Attiyah has now stretched to 25’ after 190 km. The Frenchman is currently facing big losses to his Toyota rival who is taking advantage of the tracks made by Henk Lategan on the route of the special.
09:55 Duel between Al-Attiyah and Al Rajhi after 120 km
Navigational errors have somewhat upset the racing hierarchy on the stage. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Yazeed Al Rajhi are currently leading the dance after 120 km, with 17’’ separating the two Toyota drivers. Behind the wheel of his Prodrive, Orlando Terranova is in third place, more than one minute behind. Brian Baragwanath has driven his Century into fourth position a little less than two minutes behind.
09:30 Loeb and Lategan lose more than 15 minutes
After taking the wrong route, Sébastien Loeb and Henk Lategan have lost more than a quarter of an hour to Nasser Al-Attiyah after 120 km. Mathieu Serradori, who followed them for a few kilometres before turning round has only lost eight minutes. Guerlain Chicherit, who is placed in between Loeb and Lategan, has lost the same amount of time.
09:22 Al Rajhi leads ahead of Al-Attiyah
At the second check point, Yazeed Al Rajhi, racing on home territory, leads with an advantage of seven seconds over Nasser Al-Attiyah. Henk Lategan, Sébastien Loeb and his team-mate Nani Roma are within the same minute as the two leaders, but that is likely to change… Lategan and Loeb took the wrong route before the next time check point and are set to pay a heavy price for their mistake.
09:16 More parts changes for Audi?
While Stéphane Peterhansel has been able to resume racing after his halt, his team-mate Carlos Sainz has been at a standstill for fifteen minutes after 55 km. Just like yesterday, Stéphane Peterhansel seems to be giving a helping hand to his team-mate because he has once again pulled up alongside the Spaniard. Watch this space!
09:00 A short stop for “Peter”
This 44th edition of the Dakar is truly not a happy one for Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-pilot Édouard Boulanger. After sacrificing themselves by giving a suspension part on their Audi to Carlos Sainz yesterday to allow him to resume racing, they ground to a halt for about ten minutes after 30 km.
08:54 Przygonski moves to the front
With the first drivers finding it difficult to follow the right route, Jakub Przygoński is meeting with the most success and is now opening the way.
08:50 And now the lead for Sainz
It was to be expected: Carlos Sainz seems determined to draw a line under his suspension problems of yesterday. “El Matador” leads at the first time check point, closely followed by Yazeed Al Rajhi. Nasser Al-Attiyah has dropped into third place, 30’’ behind. What’s more, Sébastien Loeb and Henk Lategan have significantly strayed from the correct route after the second check point…
08:35 Al-Attiyah takes the lead
Nasser Al-Attiyah, the seventh driver to start today, has just reached WP1 with the best time so far. He leads his rival Sébastien Loeb by 17’’ and his Toyota colleague Henk Lategan by the same time. He will have to keep a watchful eye on Carlos Sainz, who lost more than one hour yesterday and who will be seventeenth to start today.
08:25 Loeb and Lategan neck and neck
At the first check point, Sébasien Loeb and Henk Lategan have achieved the same time. They lead Jakub Przygoński and Mathieu Serradori who are a little more than 45’’ behind the two stage leaders. Lucio Alvarez has already lost more than two minutes.
08:20 10 years after for Lucio Alvarez?
It is by no means Lucio Alvarez’s first Dakar, but the Argentinean is making a return to the rally for the first time since 2018. As a result, it is the first time he has driven the Dakar in the Saudi desert. Nasser Al-Attiyah is not the only driver flying the flag for Toyota because Lucio Alvarez and Henk Lategan are also present in the same brand of car to make his life difficult. Ten years after his fifth place on the most prestigious of rally-raids, the man from Argentina occupies third place in the general rankings, 51 minutes behind Al-Attiyah and only 16 minutes behind Sébastien Loeb. For the moment, he is doing better than in 2012, but this 44th edition of the Dakar is far from finished.
08:05 Serradori, a privateer among the factory teams
Mathieu Serradori, a stage winner in 2020, fought long and hard for a podium finish yesterday on the fifth special. Behind the wheel of his Century, the privateer eventually finished in fourth place, but reaped the benefits in the general rankings by entering the top ten, a little more than two hours behind Nasser Al-Attiyah. His only regret during the stage was a loss of concentration after the neutralisation when he hit a tree. After several complicated days, the Frenchman said, “We’re back in the match and we will give it our all, you can be sure of that”. Well said!
07:50 Al-Attiyah or Loeb?
Henk Lategan may have obtained his first stage victory yesterday, but it is the battle between Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sébastien Loeb that caught most attention. In this titanic duel, it was advantage to the Frenchman yesterday, who managed to regain almost three extra minutes over his Qatari rival. On paper, it is perhaps not much, but with rankings that are fairly close after five stages (35 minutes separate the two men), the slightest second could be decisive at the end of the rally.
07:11 Stage 6: the same again… but different…
For the sixth stage before the rest day, the bikes and quads will today tackle the 421-km route covered by the cars and trucks yesterday, which is a blessing for the riders who will, for once, be able to use the tracks left by the four-wheelers that will not have disappeared during the night. They will have to deal with quick, slow and also rocky portions. They will also have to take on dunes that will at times prove difficult to negotiate. For their colleagues on four wheels (except for the quads, of course), it will be a quicker stage, though they will have to be careful in the section of canyons where punctures will be a constant menace.