With so many twists on Stage 9, everything is still to play for at Dakar

With so many twists on Stage 9, everything is still to play for at Dakar

11.01.2022: (clockwise) Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthias Walkner, Seth Quintero and Dmitry Sotnikov © Flavien Duhamel/Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool A 287km loop stage around the Wadi Ad-Dawasir bivouac was the task for Stage 9 of the 2022 Dakar Rally.


(clockwise) Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthias Walkner, Seth Quintero and Dmitry Sotnikov © Flavien Duhamel/Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

           


A 287km loop stage around the Wadi Ad-Dawasir bivouac was the task for Stage 9 of the 2022 Dakar Rally. The roller coaster race track took in canyons and plateaus, plus plenty of dunes in between.



In the car race it was Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) who celebrated his 18th Dakar stage win at the finish line. The South African is now up to fifth overall and chasing down a ninth podium finish of his distinguished Dakar career.



“The mechanics worked really, really hard last night because we had a problem with the dampers on the last two days. Today the car was just unbelievable and really nice to drive.” – Giniel De Villiers



It’s De Villiers’s Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) who continues to control the rally from first place overall. Al-Attiyah has not won a stage since Stage 4, but he has lead the general classification since Stage 1.




“We were third on this stage and we have a good lead overall so we’re quite happy. It’s great to give Toyota a 1-2-3 result today.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah



Despite Al-Attiyah showing no chinks in his armour whatsoever, Sébastien Loeb (FRA) is still throwing everything he can at the Qatari on each passing stage. On Stage 9 the Frenchman was straight into top gear and averaged 158kph over the first 35km of the timed special. Eventually a puncture prevented Loeb from taking a bite out of Al-Attiyah’s overall lead today.



“No mistakes in the navigation and just one little puncture. Apart from the wheel change we did a clean stage without any problems.” – Sébastien Loeb



It was another solid stage from the trio of Audi Sport drivers; Carlos Sainz (ESP), Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and Mattias Ekström (SWE). All three Audi RS Q e-trons placed in the Top 10 with yesterday’s stage winner Ekström the pick of the bunch finishing fourth.



“It was the first time in my life that I had opened a Dakar stage. I didn’t push too much, but I think we did a pretty good job. It was a great experience for us to open the road for all the other cars.” – Mattias Ekström



It was a familiar story in the T3 category, another stage win for Seth Quintero (USA)! The 19-year-old has set the fastest time on every day of the rally so far except one and his stage win count now stands at nine. He needs just one more to equal the record of 10 stage wins set by Pierre Lartigue (FRA) in 1994.



“I’m still in the hunt for the most stage wins. We’ve got a few more stages to go and we need a couple more to break the record.” – Seth Quintero



Coming closest to denying Quintero his latest stage win was fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP). Gutiérrez ended up second on the stage to move to fourth overall, still on the hunt for a podium finish. The T3 category continues to be led by Chaleco Lopez (CHL).



“This was a much shorter stage compared to what had come before. It still had its challenges with navigation and terrain.” – Chaleco Lopez


The lead of the bike race changed hands once again today with 2018 Dakar winner Matthias Walkner (AUS) taking top spot off 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland (GBR). Walkner has been in the Top 3 overall since the opening stage and now leads the rally for the first time this year.



“It was sandy, it was rocky and it was a really, really nice stage. It was a shorter stage today so that made things a little bit easier than previous days.”– Matthias Walkner



Walkner’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate Kevin Benavides (ARG) is another biker moving up the rankings. Benavides is the bike race’s defending champion and is obviously not willing to give up his crown easily. The Argentinian is just 10 minutes back from Walkner with three stages of the Dakar remaining.



“I felt good on the stage and was able to go fast. It was a shorter stage so I was determined to push all day. I think I did a good job.” – Kevin Benavides
 



Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) of Team Kamaz Master completed the day’s truck race with the best time. Nikolaev has previously driven to victory at the Dakar four times and currently sits second in the overall, behind last year’s winner Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS). The gap between the Kamaz team-mates is eight minutes and things could go either way on the last few stages of this Dakar.



“It was not such a long day today. I lot of stones and a lot of dust. The track was not so easy to follow and we made a small mistake at the beginning of the stage.” – Dmitry Sotnikov




A rich tapestry of landscapes and colours will greet the Dakar convoy tomorrow for Stage 10. There’s 374km of timed racing to be covered between Wadi Ad-Dawasir and Bisha as the Dakar moves towards the business end of proceedings.
 



QUOTES



Mattias Ekström
: “It was the first time in my life that I had opened a Dakar stage. I didn’t push too much, but I think we did a pretty good job. It was a great experience for us to open the road for all the other cars.”


Stéphane Peterhansel:
“Since the Rest Day we have solved our main technical problem of the first week. We can see that on the last three stages our speed and reliability has been good.”


Sébastien Loeb
: “We pushed hard from the start until the end. No mistakes in the navigation and just one little puncture. Apart from the wheel change we did a clean stage without any problems.”


Carlos Sainz:
“This stage was not too bad. We had one puncture that we had to stop to change. It takes a long time to change a wheel in this car, that’s something we need to work on.”


Giniel De Villiers
: “We had a nice clean stage. The mechanics worked really, really hard last night because we had a problem with the dampers on the last two days. Today the car was just unbelievable and really nice to drive.”


Nasser Al-Attiya
h: “Today we were able to have a really good run without pushing too much. We were third on this stage and we have a good lead overall so we’re quite happy. It’s great to give Toyota a 1-2-3 result today.”


Seth Quintero:
“We had a smooth day. It was really rocky so we set out to avoid getting a flat. I’m still in the hunt for the most stage wins. We’ve got a few more stages to go and we need a couple more to break the record.”


Chaleco Lopez:
“This was a much shorter stage compared to what had come before. It still had its challenges with navigation and terrain. We’re happy with how we handled the stage.”


Kuba Przygońsk
i: “Today was bad for us. We had a mechanical issue that we had to stop to fix. We lost around 15 minutes, but this is the Dakar.”


Cyril Despres:
“We did a navigation mistake in an area that was not easy. It’s still the same feeling whenever you lose the track. You don’t know where to go and you feel the time slipping away fast. It’s not a good feeling, but the rest of the stage was nice.”


Laia Sanz:
“It was a good day for us, but very hard because of all the dust. We tried to take it easy on the stones and have no punctures. I think we did a good job.”


Sam Sunderland:
“It was a big mix of terrain today. We were in the dunes, canyons and plateaus. There were technical parts and also fast bits. It was a stage of everything.”


Matthias Walkner
: “It was sandy, it was rocky and it was a really, really nice stage. It was a shorter stage today so that made things a little bit easier than previous days.”


Kevin Benavides
: “I felt good on the stage and was able to go fast. It was a shorter stage so I was determined to push all day. I think I did a good job.”


Danilo Petrucci:
“Unfortunately I had to stop a couple of times to change a fuse. I hope they can find a solution to this problem before the next three days. Apart from this I was happy with my riding and navigation today.”


Camille Chapelière
: “Right now my goal is just to finish the Dakar. My engine had some problems yesterday after I did half of the stage without oil and water. So I don’t want to push too much because I don’t want to break my engine.”


Mohammed Jaffar:
“I had a good stage today, even if I missed one waypoint. That’s fine with me, I’m still learning and the goal remains to finish the Dakar Rally.”


Mohammed Baloosh
i: “It was a short and fast stage. Some difficult navigation in the valleys. I had a crash in the dunes and the airbag saved me. I have to thank Alpinestars for the amazing airbag.”


Dmitry Sotnikov:
“It was not such a long day today. I lot of stones and a lot of dust. The track was not so easy to follow and we made a small mistake at the beginning of the stage.”


    
       
    -Christine FIAL, photos Red Bull

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/twists-redbull-stage-9-still-play-for-dakar---233009.html

11.01.2022 / MaP

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