No-one except his countryman Yasir Seaidan even came close to Yazeed Al-Rajhi in Wednesday's special. The Saudi, who had an erratic start to the rally, took control of the race at km 90 and cruised to his second stage win in the 43rd Dakar.
Stage 10 of the 2021 Dakar Rally was held between Neom and AlUla. Wednesday's stage covered a total distance of 583 kilometers with 342 kilometers of the special stage. Participants had to tackle a mix of sandy and muddy terrain at the start of the special stage.
Nasser Al-Attiyah, meanwhile, overtook Stéphane Peterhansel as the Qatari and the Frenchman blasted past the 285 km mark. Just under 20” separated the two rivals going into the home straight of Thursday's special!
The Frenchman, however, still enjoys a margin of more than 17 minutes in the general standings.
The Saudi's risky gamble in the closing kilometers paid off as he took his second stage win in the 2021 Dakar.
"We went fast, and Dirk also did a great job. However, with 30 km to go, we had a flat tire. We decided to push on, reasoning that we were almost there.
“The tire ended up torn to pieces, but we finished with it. It was risky, but we wanted to win. We thought that stopping would cost us 1'20", whereas easing up a little might only cost us 45",” he said.
Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver, Nani Roma in the No. 311 Hunter showcased the Hunter’s speed and reliability over another grueling stage. The Spaniard has been consistently competing within the top ten over most of this year’s set of stages, and finished stage ten in 10th, with a time of 03:14:34, +10:37 behind the leader. This maintains Roma’s position as 5th overall, +2:50:22 behind the overall leader.
Commenting at tonight’s bivouac in AlUla, Roma said: “It was an interesting stage, with a different type of terrain. We had two stops today, which were planned and part of the route; for me I like to keep pushing for the whole stage and like the pressure, but it’s a part of the race, and no problems with the car.
“For the rest of today it was good, and we really enjoyed the last part of the stage. At the start the navigation was not easy, so we had to manage our speed to make sure we didn’t make any mistakes.
“Thursday’s stage will be longer, and could be tough, but we are happy after today. The team have done a great job, and the car from the start was good, so Alex and I are looking forward to going again tomorrow.”
BRX Team Principal, Paul Howard, added: “Another consistent day for Nani, who has consolidated his position overall and we are maintaining our pace and strong reliability, with no issues The pace at the front of the group is incredibly fast, so there are people not giving up on overall victory.
“Seb’s car was on the road sections for today, as part of the rules of the rally — so even though Seb is no longer in the rally, we had the opportunity to get more mileage into his Hunter.
“This is all good learning for the future. We had a good debrief with Seb before he went home, and he is even hungrier to come back next year and put the record books straight.”
In the bike competition Ricky Brabec emerged as the winner of stage 10. The American took the reins at km 126 and never looked back despite having to open the way after overtaking Nacho Cornejo. It's his third win of the year (including the prologue) and his sixth overall!
Brabec has wrapped up the stage and is very likely all set to take his second win of the year. Joan Barreda will have to settle for second, while Kevin Benavides, Matthias Walkner and Skyler Howes fight for third place.
Pablo Copetti fended off Ítalo Pedemonte's onslaught to claim his second stage win this year in the Quad competition. Although it did not change much in the general standings, where Copetti is no longer a contender for the title, this victory slightly increased his margin on Pedemonte for fourth place overall.
Copetti finally took the lead at km 285. The Argentinian-American rider is now 21' ahead of Ítalo Pedemonte. Manuel Andújar is riding solo at 2'44', while Alexandre Giroud is just over four minutes back and Giovanni Enrico is 1'20' behind the Frenchman.
In the lightweight competition, runner-up to Casey Currie in the SSV category last year and former quad Dakar champion, Sergey Karyakin, opened his account for this year.
The Russian beat Austin Jones by almost 30 seconds and Michał Goczał by over a minute. 'Chaleco' López conceded 2'41' to Karyakin and, most importantly, over two minutes to Jones. López now has just over 10 minutes to spare over the American in the general.
Being first to start and first to finish is already good news for overall leader 'Chaleco' López, but the stage win looks like it'll go to Austin Jones, Michał Goczał or Sergey Karyakin.
Sergey Karyakin seized back the lead 200 km into the special, ahead of Austin Jones, Michał Goczał and Kris Meeke, all of whom are within a minute of the new leader. 'Chaleco' López is also ready to pounce at 1'38'. The race is oh-so-close! Meanwhile, Aron Domżała is struggling at over seven minutes back.
Stage eleven of the Dakar Rally will include the longest special stage of the rally. Drivers will have 43km of road driving before 511km of special stage to navigate, leaving AlUla for Yanbu.
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