The 2023 Dakar Rally has reached the business end of the race, the point where the eventual winners and losers will be decided. Stage 10 brought the convoy of remaining competitors onto the dunes of the Empty Quarter.
Hitting the front of the bike race after Stage 10 is 2021 Dakar winner Kevin Benavides. The Argentinian has shown patience throughout the rally so far, but when his chance to attack the lead arrived in the dunes he was quick to seize it. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider now has an overall lead of 1m 29s.
I think I did a good job. I attacked before crashing and losing a few minutes there, then I went back on the offensive.
Among the pack of bikers aiming to chase down Benavides on the two-part Marathon Stage coming up on Thursday and Friday are his KTM team-mate Toby Price. The Australian already has two Dakar titles to his name so knows what it takes to get the job done.
Hopefully a few people will get in the mix of it. We'll try and get some gaps and see if it works.
The front three bikers of Benavides, Price and Husqvarna rider Skyler Howes are now all 20 minutes clear of the pack. With four stages left to race it looks very likely that this year’s winner will be one of these leading trio.
There was no change at the head of the T4 contest where Rokas Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Vidal of the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team lead. 23-year-old Baciuška is being followed closely by 18-year-old Eryk Goczal, just 3m 40s separates the drivers after ten stages.
In the middle of the dunes I felt a little bad, but I was able to catch my breath and most importantly we finished.
It’s on the two-day Empty Quarter Marathon Stage that we could see a decisive move made in the T3 race. Current T3 category leaders Guillaume De Mevius/François Cazalet had their advantage over second place crew AJ Jones/Gustavo Gugelmin cut to just 7m 48s. The fastest T3 time on Stage 10 belonged to Jones’s fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich crew of Seth Quintero/Dennis Zenz.
I was very pleased with our performance today. I had a lot riding on today's race and we really showed up.
Sébastien Loeb is driving his seventh edition of the Dakar and arrived in Saudi Arabia this time with full focus on winning the rally. A tough opening week looks to have taken victory out of Loeb’s hands but the BRX Hunter driver has battled back onto the overall podium. Today the nine-time WRC winner claimed the 20th stage win of his Dakar career. Alongside co-driver Fabian Lurquin, Loeb is determined to finish this rally as well as he can.
It was a good stage for us. No mistakes, no problems. Only dunes for more than 100 kilometres. It was quite long, quite demanding, but the feeling was good with the car.
One place in front of Loeb in the overall rankings is second placed Lucas Moraes. The Brazilian rookie, co-driver Timo Gottschalk and their Toyota Hilux took third on today’s stage, just a couple of minutes behind Team Audi Sport pair Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist who were second behind Loeb.
It was a short stage but a tricky one and I got motion sickness at the end. I had to stop and recover. Today was a good training and we’re still second overall.
The final word goes to car race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah who holds an advantage of 1h 21m 34s in the general classification. There doesn’t seem to be anybody keener to test themself against the dunes of Empty Quarter than the Toyota Hilux T1+ driver, supported by co-driver Mathieu Baumel.
I didn't push too hard today, I didn't want to take risks because the marathon stage is tomorrow.
So why all the fuss about the Marathon Stage? Well, with competitors across all categories separated from their mechanics from the beginning of Stage 11 until the conclusion of Stage 12, this is the biggest test to overcome at the 2023 Dakar. Especially when the there’s over 450km of desert racing to complete on the two upcoming stages. Good luck folks!
Selected Overall Standings after Stage 10
T1 Car Class
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) TOYOTA 36:13:37
2. Lucas Moraes (BRA) TOYOTA +01:21:34
3. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) BRX +01:37:23
5. Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) TOYOTA +02:10:56
22. Mattias Ekström (SWE) AUDI +06:58:30
24. Kuba Przygoński (POL) MINI +07:16:03
32. Laia Sanz (ESP) ASTARA +17:14:07
T3 Lightweight Prototype
1. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) OT3 41:45:58
2. AJ Jones (USA) CAN-AM +07:48
3. Seth Quintero (USA) CAN-AM +01:03:42
4. Chaleco López (CHL) CAN-AM +02:44:04
5. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) CAN-AM +03:14:06
10. Ignacio Casale (CHL) YAMAHA +07:25:12
20. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) MCE5 +24:30:35
1. Rokas Baciuška (LTU) CAN-AM 43:17:29
2. Eryk Goczal (POL) CAN-AM +03:40
3. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) CAN-AM +06:47
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG) KTM 35:46:06
2. Skyler Howes (USA) HUSQVARNA +01:29
3. Toby Price (AUS) KTM +02:10
9. Daniel Sanders (AUS) GASGAS +23:40
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM +39:49
14. Štefan Svitko (SVK) KTM +01:20:44
38. Mohammed Balooshi (ARE) HUSQVARNA +08:27:48