Al-Rajhi’s HiLux takes the win on 2021 Dakar Stage 10 which was run through a spectacular landscape with challenging navigation.
Toyota HiLux driver Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) has closed the gap on rally leader Stephane Peterhansel (X-Raid Mini JCW Team) in the 2021 Dakar Stage 10 which was run through a tricky maze of spectacular geological formations.
As well as some difficult driving conditions, navigation was once again key to a successful result on the stage, and it was Saudi local Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Overdrive Toyota) who took the stage win in his V8-powered HiLux. Al-Attiyah came home in second 2m 04s off the pace, while Peterhansel ensured his overall lead was safe finishing Stage 10 in third.
“We went fast, and Dirk (navigator) also did a great job,” stage winner Al-Rajhi said. “However, with 30km to go we had a flat tyre. We decided to push on, reasoning that we were almost there. The tyre ended up torn to pieces but we finished with it. It was risky but we wanted to win.”
In the overall rankings, Peterhansel now has a 17m 01s lead over Al-Attiyah, with Carlos Sainz (X-Raid Mini JCW Team) in third, with a seemingly impossible gap to make up of 1h 3m 44s.
“We were actually expecting an easy stage,” Peterhansel said. “It wasn’t long and there were not many stones, but the navigation was very difficult. It felt like the organisers wanted the competitors to go the wrong way.”
It was a terrible day in the Bikes for Chilean Nacho Cornejo (Monster Energy Honda Team 2021), who went into the stage with an 11-minute lead overall after Australia’s Toby Price (KTM Red Bull Racing) crashed out of contention (and the race) yesterday. Cornejo crashed heavily 252km into Stage 10 and, although he got back on his bike, he was unable to maintain his pace, surrendering the lead to his rivals and eventually pulling out of the race due to a concussion.
“I’ve failed in my mission,” lamented Cornejo after the stage. “Today I had a very heavy fall that left me unconscious for a few minutes, I was able to get back onto the bike, but very slowly and with the bike all bent up. I made the stage 10 finish-line, but for safety reasons I have to get such a heavy blow to the head checked out properly. I feel like I’ve been hit by a train. I have nothing left to do but thank my team, my family, my trainers and all the fans for their tremendous support and encouragement. We were so close to the big dream… it will remain unfinished business.”
Last year’s Bike winner, American Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda Team 2021) took the win in Stage 10 and made up valuable time on event leader and teammate Kevin Benavides. Brabec now sits in second place overall, just 51s behind Benavides, with Sam Sunderland (KTM Red Bull Racing) in third 10m and 36s off the lead.
“Today definitely was a good day, but it was unfortunate for our teammate Nacho Cornejo,” Ricky Brabec said. “We heard that he crashed, but finished the stage and they ended up taking him to the hospital. It’s unfortunate for him, but he’s OK and he made it to the finish-line. That’s always a plus.”
Aussie rider Daniel Sanders (KTM Factory Team) had another good showing, finishing the stage in sixth, and now sits in sixth overall just over 20 minutes from a podium position.
The other Aussie riders finished the stage, with Michael Burgess in 26th (29th overall) and Andrew Houlihan in 45th (52nd overall).
In the Trucks, Martin Macik (Big Shock Racing) continued his late charge, beating home rally leader Dmitry Sotnikov by 1m 40s. Despite Macik’s effort, the Kamaz – Master team appears to have the event wrapped up (barring any big issues), with Sotnikov enjoying a 47m 22s lead over teammate Shibalov, and with Mardeev in third a comfortable one hour ahead of fourth-placed Ales Loprais (Instaforex Loprais Praga).
Tomorrow’s penultimate stage will see competitors up against a whopping 511km Special – the longest of the event.