MOTORSPORT

Dakar Stage 6: In it for the long haul

The longest day yet of the Dakar has come and gone with its share of new challenges.

Jordan Schmidt
January 12, 2024
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Dakar Stage 6: In it for the long haul

  

The 48-hour 'Chrono' was arguably the most challenging stage of the Dakar yet. It takes place over two days, with teams racing through the first day to arrive at basic bivouacs where the competitors can only eat and sleep. Competitors then head out in the early hours of the morning to complete the stage.

 

753 kilometres offered plenty of opportunity for drama to take place. It wasn't long before a shocking image of the local Saudi Dakar leader, Yazeed Al Rajhi, was circulated. It showed a severely damaged Toyota Hilux on its side. It was the 51-kilometre mark that was the scene of the dramatic incident where the Overdrive Team, moving at quite a pace up the stage leaderboard, hit an awkward kick. Sending the car tail over the front and into a sideward roll. This ended the rally leader's chance at the Dakar crown.

 

The Dakar is unlike any other race, where the large number of variables at play wreak havoc for the competitors throughout the race. Unfortunately for Stephane Peterhansel, their broken car jack caused an issue as a puncture around the midway point proved to be more troublesome than it should have been.

 

Despite the mounting number of issues occurring on Stage 6, Sebastien Loeb set out to prove that his intentional penalty the day prior would benefit his push on this longer stage. Well, it appears that this clever little strategy paid off, as they finished the first day of the stage in first place. Unfortunately, the 15-minute time penalty could prove to be detrimental later in the race, as he currently sits in third, 29 minutes and 31 seconds behind the new leader.

 

After Nasser's impressive first-place finish on Stage 5, he led the pack out into the dunes for the 48-hour Chrono stage. The dunes proved to be a bigger challenge on the day as he beached his car, forcing him a few spots down the stage leaderboard.

 

For the Audi Team, Stage 6 was a noteworthy round, with two teams making it onto the podium in second and third place after the first day of the Chrono. Mattias Ekstrom expressed disappointment in his navigation and driving setup on the previous days, prompting new changes to his car before this long stage. The changes proved to be a valuable improvement to the car, allowing for a third-place stage finish.

 

Carlos Sainz finished second with an impressive show of skill, gracefully ripping through the desert with a rhythm that nearly no other team could match. Due to the unfortunate exit from the 2024 Dakar by Yazeed, Carlos Sainz Sr. now comfortably finds himself in first overall, 20 minutes ahead of his teammates.

 

The South Africans had another good day, with Giniel de Villiers arriving at the overnight stay in 8th place, Guy David Botterill finishing in a respectable 17th, Brian Baragwanath finishing in 28th, and yet another improvement for Saood Variawa, finishing in 43rd.

 

The top ten results at the moment for stage six are as follows:

 

  1. 203, Sebastien Loeb, Bahrain Raid Xtreme

  2. 204, Carlos Sainz, Team Audi Sport

  3. 207, Mattias Ekstrom, Team Audi Sport

  4. 206, Lucas Moraes, Toyota Gazoo Racing

  5. 302, Eryk Goczal, Energylandia Rally Team

  6. 211, Guerlain Chicherit, Overdrive Racing

  7. 208, Martin Prokop, Orlen Jipocar Team

  8. 209, Giniel de Villiers, Toyota Gazoo Racing

  9. 408, Yasir Seaidan, MMP

  10. 221, Guillaume De Mevius, Overdrive Racing

 

The liaison leg of the 48-hour Chrono is underway, and as the weekend approaches, tomorrow will be a rest day for the drivers. Racing will return on Sunday, with the longest day on the calendar, an 873-kilometre stage that's likely to spell the end for several drivers' 2024 campaigns.

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