Dakar: Sainz is still in the lead in the most difficult stage

Dakar: Sainz is still in the lead in the most difficult stage

The sixth stage of Dakar 2024 will, for the first time in the history of these rally raids, last 48 hours and pass through the Saudi desert, which in Russian geographical tradition is called approximately what the locals call it: Rub al- Khali. And in English, for example, this area is called Empty Quarter, i.e. literally “empty side”, and this is not an exaggeration.

In these parts it is really “completely empty”, there are only endless dune fields that the stage route crosses, and it includes 547 km of high-speed sections for – but this is for the crews of SUVs and trucks, and motorcyclists will be in battle mode but have to conquer no less than 626 km in 48 hours.

The first part of this difficult test is behind us, and Adrien Van Beveren, an experienced Frenchman on a Honda motorcycle, and Carlos Sainz Sr., a rider from the factory Audi team, have done the best.

The result is still only an interim result and the result of the sixth stage will be known later in the evening on Friday, but for now the organizers of the rally raid have only shared the most important news.

One of them is this: the Chilean Pablo Quintanilla, the winner of yesterday’s stage in the rally raid, did not calculate anything today and did not reach the first refueling point 10 km – the tank of his Honda CRF 450 Rally motorcycle ran out of gas .

One of the features of such stages, where you have to constantly drive through quicksand, is increased fuel consumption. Quintanilla, with his 11 years of Dakar experience, obviously knew this, but something went wrong. As a result, he paid dearly for his mistake, and while yesterday his gap to the class leader was around 27 minutes, today it has grown by more than 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Despite the lack of official results, the organizers of the rally raid report that the leader in the two-wheeler class has changed: the famous American motorcycle racer Ricky Brabeck, Quintanilla’s teammate in the Honda factory team, has become him. However, it was not he who showed the best time on the stage, but Adrien van Beveren, another Honda representative.

The leader in the premium SUV class also changed: Sainz took the lead in the Ultimate category, while the former leader, Saudi driver Yazed Al-Raji, rolled back. It seems that no one but him knows the peculiarities of the deserts of his homeland, and in theory he should understand in which cases it is possible to push, and when it is better not to rush.

But today, while conquering the ridges of the dunes, he passed his Toyota Hilux racing SUV at full speed. The car suffered very serious damage and there are doubts whether Al-Rajhi will be able to continue the fight.

Problems, albeit of a different nature, prevented Stéphane Peterhansel, Sainz’s Audi Sport teammate today: today “Mr. Dakar” lost more than two hours due to punctures, but mainly due to technical problems with the hydraulic system of his electric racing SUV .

But his teammates in the Audi Sport factory team stood out: Carlos Sainz showed the best time in today’s part of the sixth stage and Mattias Ekström came second, losing some 16 minutes to the Spaniard.

In the Challenger class, Polish racer Eric Gochal returned to the lead, riding a Taurus T3 Max light SUV, and in the SSV (motorized all-terrain vehicle) category, Florent Weissad, riding for Sébastien Loeb’s team, was the first to arrive at the intermediate finish.

Among the “heavyweights”, i.e. crews who fought for victory in the cargo category, the best was the Czech Martin Masik and his comrades, i.e. crew from the MM Technology Team on a specially prepared Iveco Powerstar. However, these are all only preliminary results and the final results of the 6th stage will be known on Friday. But on Saturday all Dakar participants will have a rest day.

Source: F1 News

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