Dakar Stage 9: Another Prodrive is out for the count
Winning the Dakar is an objective that all racers strive for before heading into the dunes. However, for many, the latter stages of this race make even just finishing a desirable goal. Nasser Al-Attiyah came to the 2024 Dakar with high hopes of placing another trophy in his cabinet. Unfortunately, this dream came to a disappointing close as the Qatari driver withdrew after Stage 9 following mechanical issues.
In true racing fashion, Sebastien Loeb responded to Nasser's complaints, stating, "Nasser had problems again today? Damn. My car seems to work pretty well." And indeed, it does, with his fourth stage win of the 2024 race pulling him another five minutes closer to the leader at the conclusion of the stage.
Despite his outstanding consistency, minor blunders like missing a waypoint within Stage 8 have hampered Sebastien's attempt to reduce the gap, and he will need a miracle in the last stages to have a chance at the win.
Carlos Sainz Sr. had another great day in the racing seat, finishing the stage in second. Despite the controversial EV power units, the Audis appear to be relatively reliable, with three of them still running on all cylinders, or, should I say motors.
With high hopes for a good ninth-stage finish for Lucas Moraes, the Brazilian TGR driver was setting a great time during the course, but with a six-minute error, the Hilux finished eighth in the stage.
The South Africans had a mixed day of emotions as Guy David Botterill grabbed an impressive fifth, while the SA favourites Giniel de Villiers dropped a few spots in the rankings with a slower 24th on the stage.
Saood had a blinding race as his seat time was showing through. He finished 13th, and with improvement as rapid as he is portraying, we'd love to see him break into the top ten in one or more of the closing stages.
The same could be said for the South Africans Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer in their Century Racing buggy, finishing the stage in 11th with another satisfying improvement.
The results for Stage 9 are as follows:
- 203, Sebastien Loeb, Bahrain Raid Xtreme
- 204, Carlos Sainz, Team Audi Sport
- 212, Mathieu Serradori, Century Racing Factory Team
- 221, Guillaume De Mevius, Overdrive Racing
- 243, Guy David Botterill, Toyota Gazoo Racing
- 202, Stephane Peterhansel, Team Audi Sport
- 206, Lucas Moraes, Toyota Gazoo Racing
- 207, Matthias Ekstrom, Team Audi Sport
- 231, Romain Dumas, Rebellion Racing
- 208, Martin Prokop, Orlen Jipocar Team
The service area is undoubtedly buzzing with nervous energy as the drivers prepare for the 612-kilometre Stage 10. Reliability is the name of the game for Carlos Sainz Sr., while Sebastien Loeb will be attempting to claw back some valuable time.