Dakar Rally,Saudi Arabia - Monday 3 January 2022
Monday’s sandy 338 kilometre third Dakar stage from H’ail to Al Artawiya saw fresh faces on the podium. World rally legend Sebastien Loeb added a 15th day victory to his Dakar tally aboard his BRX Hunter, while Spain’s Juan Barreda powered his Honda to a convincing bike win. Toyota Gazoo Hilux hero Nasser Al Attiyah however retains a handy overall lead in the cars, while Gas Gas still leads the bikes with Sam Sunderland now ahead.
It was a tale of two races in the cars, which took a while to work themselves out. Many of the regular front runners started 25th or worse to create two main groups. But none of those chasing would match flying French nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin's BRX Hunter. They came out of the blocks fighting to lead from the get go. With overall leaders Nasser Al Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel's Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux in chase.
Some way behind them on the road, Carlos Sainz Sr. and Lucas Cruz’s Audi had a far better day. They found their way to squeal home third in the best of the recovered petrol-electric Audis. Fellow late starters, teammates Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger’s rebuilt machine and Nani Roma and Alex Bravo’s second BRX Hunter chased Sainz home.
Sixth placed Saudi local, Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Michael Orr's Hilux led South African crews, Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings and Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy's factory Gazoo machines home. Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist’s Audi was ninth. Other SA car crews, Century CR6 two, Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer fought back from 37th to 14th. And supersub Chris Visser and Rodney Burke impressed, but lost time in the final sector.
Taye Perry navigating for Cyril Despres in a Peugeot 3008 ended up a provisional 27th. Shameer Variawa and Danie Stassen’s Gazoo Hilux was 28th. Another SA navigator, Ryan Bland was 44th Daniel Schroder in their WCT Red-Lined VK50. Century duo, Schalk Burger and Henk Janse van Vuuren were still running in 64th as we wrote, while Ernest Roberts and Henry Kohne were back up and going well down after losing over an hour early on.
That, along with Sunday’s chaos, leaves Al Attiyah leading Loeb by 9 minutes 16 seconds. Consistent Argentine privateers Luciano Alvarez and Araman Monelon’s Hilux is third, just 22 seconds ahead of de Villiers. Perry and Despres are provisionally 13th, Visser a fine 22nd, and Variyawa 25th. The rest of the expected frontrunners were well down overall, slowly starting to recover from Sunday’s issues. Ekstrom is 26th, Baragwanath 28th, Sainz 29th, Lategan 31st and Peterhansel 32nd!
It was all about Spanish Honda hero Juan Barreda on two wheels. Not before he had to chase down the feisty Portuguese rider, Rui Goncalves, who led the way through the first three waypoints on his Sherco. Once in front however, there was no stopping Barreda, who took the win from Brit Sam Sunderland's Gas Gas by over five minutes. He led a tight group comprising ’21 winner Kevin Benavides’s KTM, Skyler Howes’ Husqvarna and Toby Price’s KTM home.
Portuguese Joaquim Rodriguez’ Honda ended sixth from privateer Stefan Svitko’s KTM, Adrien van Beveren and Andrew Short’s Yamahas and South African Aaron Mare’s Hero in tenth. Botswana’s Ross Branch had a trying day to end up 22nd on his Yamaha ahead of troubled overnight leader Daniel Sanders’ Gas Gas and three places clear of SA rookie Bradley Cox’s KTM. Impressive rookie, MotoGP refugee Danilo Petrucci retired when his KTM blew its engine.
Of the other South Africans, Charan Moore ended 46th, John Kelly was 60th and Stuart Gregory 75th. Walter Terblanche was 105th, Paulo Oliveira 106th and Werner Kennedy 113th among the 142 bikes. All that led to a shake-up overall, as Sunderland moved ahead to keep Gas Gas up front ahead of van Beveren, Sanders, Matthias Walkner’s KTM, Howes and Lorenzo Santolino's Sherco. Mare sits ninth, Branch 11th, Cox 26th and Moore 38th overall.
Austin Jones and Gustavo Gugelmin’s Can Am beat the similar machines of Rodrigo de Oliveira and Maykal Justo and Araon Domzala and Macie Marton in the Side by Sides. SA crew Geoff Minnitt and Siegfried Rousseau were running 15th. Jones leads Oliveira by 21 seconds overall. Overall leaders, Francisco Contardo and Pablo Vinagre led Sebastian Eriksson and Wouter Rosegaar’s similar Can Am home in the UTVs
Argentine Manuel Andujar led Frenchman Alexandre Giroud and Pablo Copetti home in the quads, where Lithuanian Laisvydas Kanicus leads Copetti overall. The trucks were still racing at the time of writing, with Russian Kamaz trio Karginov, Sotnikov and Nikolaiev ahead and Sotnikov and Nikolaiev fighting for he overall lead. Tuesday sees a another sandy and technical 255 km run from Al Artawiya to Al Qaysumah.
Image: Loeb takes his 15th stage win adding to his Dakar tally aboard his BRX Hunter