There was a fair amount of chaos in the Peruvian dunes on the penultimate stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally. For many it was a final chance to claw back some serious time on their rivals. The soft sands of Pisco ended up biting hard and took the Dakar’s most successful ever competitor out of the race.
13-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and co-driver David Castera (FRA) started stage nine in determined fashion. They had fallen out of the podium positions on the previous stage and were battling to get back into the Top 3. Unfortunately, their MINI John Cooper Works Buggy suffered a hard impact in the dunes after 26 kilometres of the stage and the pair’s Dakar ended right there.
“We came over a dune and landed head-on in the next dune. Everything went so fast that David (Castera), who was looking at the roadbook at that moment, didn’t expect the impact.” – Stéphane Peterhansel
The men Peterhansel was chasing were race leaders Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Mathieu Baumel (FRA). This duo in their Toyota Hilux suffered no such problems as their near faultless Dakar drive continued today. The 2015 Dakar winners are now just one stage away from recapturing their crown.
“Tomorrow we just need to bring it home to Lima. Always we try to do our best because it’s really not easy here. Everyday we work really hard to have a good speed and not to make any mistakes.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Al-Attiyah is being supported every step of the way by his Toyota team-mate Giniel De Villiers (ZAF). De Villiers is sticking as close as he can to Al-Attiyah out on the stage, just in case he can lend a hand along the way.
“We just tried to follow the tracks of Nasser in case he needed us, but he did a great job. For us as a team our aim is to get Nasser to the line in first place.” – Giniel De Villiers
Bouncing back from a tricky start to the Dakar’s second week has been Kuba Przygonski (POL). The 2018 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup winner capitalised on misfortune for Peterhansel, Sébastien Loeb (FRA) and Cyril Despres (FRA) today. The Pole now sits fourth overall with a single stage remaining, 31m behind Loeb who occupies the final podium place.
“We’re so happy that we’ve been able to be competitive in our car against the other teams.” – Kuba Przygonski
The mass start in the bike race saw the top riders grouped together on the stage. This was good news for race leader Toby Price (AUS) who only conceded one second to his closest rival Pablo Quintanilla (CHI). Price now has a lead of 1m02s to protect on the final run to Lima.
“Today was all about being smooth and consistent, there wasn’t really the chance to break away. I just needed to keep everyone in sight and that’s what we managed to do.” – Toby Price
“Tomorrow is only a 100-kilometre stage, but I think it’s going to feel more like 300. The boys are really going to up their pace and all I can do is try my best once more and try to stay with them. If I can get through tomorrow and finish on the podium, I’ll be more than happy.” – Toby Price
Third overall in the bike race is defending champion Matthias Walkner (AUT) who, like Price, has been carrying an injury during the race. With Price’s broken bone in his wrist and Walkner’s damaged ankle, to see these two on the podium at the end of the rally would represent a monumental achievement.
Price and Walkner’s fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders – Sam Sunderland (GBR), Luciano Benavides (ARG) and Laia Sanz (ESP) – are all in and around the Top 10. A clear demonstration of the team’s rally-raid quality as they chase their 18th consecutive Dakar victory.
“There was some chaos at the beginning. We started as the first 10 bikes all together in the dunes. I got lost for about five minutes in the fog and after that I pushed a lot to catch the front group.” – Luciano Benavides
Aussie KTM riders, Ben Young and James Ferguson are still on track to finish, currently running 53rd and 69th respectively. While John Maragozidis is flying the Aussie flag high on his Yamaha Quad, sitting 15th in class with one stage to go.
On course for victory on his Dakar debut in the SxS/UTV class is Chaleco Lopez (CHI). The Chilean driver takes an advantage of nearly an hour over second placed Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) into the final stage.
“We’ll take care now on the final stage, watch out for the tyres. Only at the finish line will we stop to reflect on our result.” – Chaleco Lopez
There was another twist in the battle between the two Team Kamaz Master truckers vying for supremacy at this edition of the Dakar. Reigning champion Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) took the overall lead back off team-mate Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) after besting his time on stage by 27 minutes.
Now only tomorrow’s final stage of 112 kilometres separates the convoy from the finish line. It’s still one more tricky day to navigate before successful competitors can look back on a job well done. It’ll take nerves of steel to secure that spot on the podium once and for all. And then the party can get started!
2019 Dakar Rally Car Race Top 5 (after nine stages of 10)
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota 33h09m12s
2. Nani Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro Bravo (ESP) Mini Rally +51m27s
3. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) Peugeot +02h02m37s
4. Kuba Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini Rally +02h33m51s
5. Cyril Despres (FRA) Mini Buggy +02h55m13s
Retired. Steve Riley (AUS) / Trev Hanks (AUS) Holden Australia
2019 Dakar Rally Bike Race Top 5 (after nine stages of 10)
1. Toby Price (AUS) KTM 32h43m15s
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Husqvarna +01m02s
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM +06m35s
4. Andrew Short (USA) Husqvarna +40m01s
5. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA) Yamaha +47m44s
53. Ben Young (AUS) KTM + 21H 23′ 40”
69. James Ferguson (AUS) KTM + 35H 22′ 57”
Retired: Rod Faggotter (AUS) Yamaha
2019 Dakar Rally Truck Race Top 5 (after nine stages of 10)
1. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) Kamaz 39h24m52s
2. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz +28m35s
3. Gerard De Rooy (NDL) Iveco +01h35m10s
4. Federico Villagra (ARG) Iveco +05h47m44s
5. Ales Loprais (CZE) Tatra +06h05m02s
2019 Dakar Rally SxS/UTV Race Top 5 (after nine stages of 10)
1. Chaleco Lopez (CHI) Can-Am 40h47m46s
2. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) Can-Am +59m46s
3. Reinaldo Varela (BRA) Can-Am +01h11m29s
4. Casey Currie (USA) Can-Am +02h26m42s
5. RJ Moreno Piazzoli (CHI) Can-Am +03h05m22s
2019 Dakar Rally Quad Race Top 5 (after nine stages of 10)
1. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) Yamaha 41h22m21s
2. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) Yamaha +01h40m19s
3. Gustavo Gallego (ARG) Yamaha +02h04m34s
4. Alexandre Giroud (FRA) Yamaha +03h48m14s
5. Manuel Andujar (ARG) Yamaha +06h22m23s
15. John Maragozidis (AUS) Yamaha + 27H 28′ 58”