Dakar Stage 7: The big one

Following the brutal Stage 6, there was calm in the desert as teams made the most of a much-needed break before the longest stage on the calendar.

Jordan Schmidt
January 15, 2024
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Dakar Stage 7: The big one


The 48-hour Chrono challenge of Stage 6 brought with it a much-needed break for the competitors. This break preceded the competition's most challenging stage, crushing podium hopes for an unfortunate Audi duo.


47 kilometres into the seventh stage special, disaster struck for Mattias Ekstrom and Emil Bergkvist. The rough, rocky terrain at the start of this 873-kilometre stage proved to be too harsh for the rear left-wheel assembly on the electric Audi, forcing over four hours of repair time onto the team's racing time as they plummeted down the leaderboard.


Whether you religiously watch the Dakar or enjoy the regular highlight reels, it's clear that the aim of the game for the Dakar is consistency. You don’t need to win many of the stages to be crowned champion, but rather, placing consistently well in the top ten proves time and time again to be the most favourable strategy.


Carlos Sainz Sr. has consistently displayed his ability to finish well with little drama. This allowed him and his co-driver, Lucas Cruz, to build a sizable lead over the rest of the field. The leading Audi team finished fourth in another brilliant display of rhythm and precision.


Toyota Gazoo Racing has been slowly improving throughout the Dakar, with Brazilian driver Lucas Moraes repeatedly placing well. Stage 7 proved to favour him, finishing in second as the day closed. His quiet but consistent performance has propelled him to third place overall, giving Toyota hope for a Dakar win.


There is one man who continues to impress as he too fights for his first Dakar victory. Sebastien Loeb put in another impressive effort on Stage 7, finishing first in the stage and closing the gap to 19 minutes in the general standings behind Carlos Sainz.


Stage 7 results are as follows:


  1. 203, Sebastien Loeb, Bahrain Raid Xtreme
  2. 206, Lucas Moraes, Toyota Gazoo Racing
  3. 200, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Nasser Racing
  4. 204, Carlos Sainz, Team Audi Sport
  5. 211, Guerlain Chicherit, Overdrive Racing
  6. 212, Mathieu Serradori, Century Racing Factory Team
  7. 214, Vaidotas Zala, X-Raid Arijus Team
  8. 231, Romain Dumas, Rebellion Racing
  9. 216, Seth Quintero, Toyota Gazoo Racing
  10. 215, Denis Krotov, Overdrive Racing


As the competitors head into the last five days of the Dakar, it is time to look at the general rankings for the Dakar 2024. The results are as follows for stage seven:


  1. 204, Carlos Sainz, Team Audi Sport, 30H 06’ 42’’
  2. 203, Sebastien Loeb Bahrain Raid Xtreme, 30H 25’ 42’’, +00H 19’ 00’’
  3. 206, Lucas Moraes, Toyota Gazoo Racing, 31H 07’ 17’’, +01H 00’ 35’’
  4. 221, Guillaume De Mevius, Overdrive Racing, 31H 37’ 32’’, +01H 30’ 50’’
  5. 209, Giniel De Villiers, Toyota Gazoo Racing, 31H 46’ 49’’, +01H 40’ 07’’
  6. 208, Martin Prokop, Orlen Jipocar Team, 31H 57’ 22’’, +01H 50’ 40’’
  7. 212, Mathieu Serradori, Century Racing Factory Team, 31H 59’ 32’’, +01H 52’ 50’’
  8. 211, Guerlain Chicherit, Overdrive Racing, 32H 05’ 22’’, +01H 58’ 40’’
  9. 243, Guy David Botterill, Toyota Gazoo Racing, 32H 17’ 58”, +02H 11’ 12’’
  10. 223, Benediktas Vanagas, Toyota Gazoo Racing Baltics, 32H 29’ 35’’, +02H 22’ 53’’


It is exciting to see two South African cars in the top ten, with persistence and consistency again being vital strategies for success in this monumentally large race. The Dakar is notoriously unforgiving, so these results are far from final, but I look forward to seeing what our local drivers are capable of in the final five days.


So, the next stage, being stage eight, is a 678-kilometre leg. This is a reasonably long distance, with more dunes, rocks, and drama ahead.

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