Dakar

2024 Dakar Rally: Peterhansel scores record-tying 50th stage win

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Credit: Julien Delfosse/DPPI/ASO

Stéphane Peterhansel is the most accomplished racer in Dakar Rally history with fourteen overall victories on both two and four wheels. On Sunday, he added another milestone when he won his fiftieth Dakar stage, tying Ari Vatanen for the most in a car.

Peterhansel narrowly defeated fellow Frenchman Sébastien Loeb for the Stage #2 win, edging him out by just twenty-nine seconds. It is Peterhansel’s second Dakar stage victory with Audi after claiming Stage #10 in 2022 and eighty-third at Dakar as a whole if one includes his thirty-three as a bike racer; he also claimed a car leg at the 2008 Central Europe Rally, the replacement for that year’s cancelled Dakar Rally which is considered part of the race’s lineage.

“For sure, it’s much better than yesterday because at the end, it’s not really complicated to be much better than yesterday,” Peterhansel commented. “But first of all, we took pleasure to drive because the the track was not too much destroyed, not too much rocks. It made it really fun to drive the car. The setting of the car is really good. To take victory of a stage is always nice.”

His team-mate Carlos Sainz placed eighth and moved into the overall lead after Stage #1 winner Guillaume de Mévius, who remarked he “never opened a special and it’s not easy,” got lost multiple times and finished nineteenth. De Mévius’ Toyota colleague Seth Quintero was the highest finisher from their marque in third, edging out former Hilux driver Nasser Al-Attiyah for the last stage podium step by three minutes.

Although not as rocky—literally and metaphorically—as Stage #1, the fast nature of the second leg still proved challenging in its own way. X-raid Team’s Mini programme especially suffered in the dunes as their lead drivers Krzysztof Hołowczyc and Pau Navarro both failed to finish. Navarro’s wheel came off while going through a fast lefthand turn and he hit a patch of camel grass, causing him to hurt his hand. Hołowczyc slammed into a rock while trying to avoid a group of bike riders that he was trying to overtake, resulting in him crashing and hurting his hands and neck while co-driver Łukasz Kurzeja suffered some back pain. Despite their injuries, both hope to continue.

“To be honest, I thought it was over, however, Luke and I decided that we would not give up so easily,” said Hołowczyc. “We tried to repair the car ourselves, but the damage was too serious. We were forced to wait several hours for a service truck. The most important thing, however, is that we keep going.”

The trucks were also not exempt from trouble as Martin van den Brink and Gert Huzink both rolled. Even Romain Dumas‘ assistance truck piloted by Ahmed Benbekhti suffered a flat tyre along the way. Despite being on his side for forty minutes, Huzink was able to finish top ten in class in eighth after rival Pascal de Baar pulled him back onto his wheels, while van den Brink finished twenty-fifth when the support vehicle of Dave Ingels saved the day. Even with the slight pause to assist Huzink, de Baar still ended the day in fourth.

Mason Klein and Lorenzo Santolino suffered mechanical issues that knocked the latter out of the Dakar. The hose clamp on Klein’s Kove 450 Rally EX detached from the oil cooler line, which he tried to reconnect using wire but failed to restart his vehicle until Sunier arrived and gave him the oil line from his Kove 450 EX; while this gesture sacrificed time for Sunier, Klein was able to continue the race to the finish. The delay drops Klein from third overall in RallyGP to nineteenth and two-and-a-half hours back of leader Ross Branch.

Kerim Fitz-Gerald fell 274 kilometres into the stage and was forced to retire with a broken wrist and ribs, ending an otherwise strong Dakar Rally début in which he nearly won the Prologue in Rally2 until penalties got in the way. Quad rider Marcelo Medeiros took a tumble of his own that led to thigh and hip bruises, but still managed to win the stage in his class.

Rally2 outfit TwinTrail Racing Team withdrew from the race altogether after Carles Falcón crashed at KM 448. When medical personnel and nearby riders attended to him, he was unconscious and did not have a pulse. Upon reviving him, he was airlifted to hospital in Dawadmi and diagnosed with a C2 fracture, and is in critical but stable condition. Falcón will be transported to Riyadh for further treatment and remain under sedation for the next days to stem the swelling in his head. Team-mate Isaac Feliu opted to pull out to stay with his friend.

Feliu wrote, “I promise that very soon we will enjoy life together again as we have so many times in the past. I promise.”

Stage #2 winners

ClassNumberCompetitorTeamTime
Ultimate (T1)202Stéphane PeterhanselTeam Audi Sport3:54:40
Stock (T2)500Akira Miura*Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body5:47:57
Challenger (T3)302Eryk GoczałEnergyLandia Rally Team4:25:22
SSV (T4)402Gerard Farrés*South Racing Can-Am4:50:53
Truck (T5)600Janus van Kasteren*Boss Machinery Team de Rooy4:35:12
RallyGP11José Ignacio CornejoMonster Energy Honda Rally Team4:24:17
Rally276Jean-Loup LepanDUUST Rally Team4:40:41
Malle Moto96Tobias EbsterKini Rally Racing Team4:55:04
Quad177Marcelo MedeirosTaguatur Racing Team5:37:04
Classic700Juan Morera*Momabikes Raid Team15 points
Mission 10007 teams7 teams7 teams10 points
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Leaders after Stage #2

ClassNumberCompetitorTeamTime
Ultimate (T1)204Carlos SainzTeam Audi Sport8:49:38
Stock (T2)500Akira Miura*Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body13:01:14
Challenger (T3)302Eryk GoczałEnergyLandia Rally Team9:39:40
SSV (T4)402Gerard Farrés*South Racing Can-Am10:36:47
Truck (T5)600Janus van Kasteren*Boss Machinery Team de Rooy9:31:37
RallyGP46Ross BranchHero MotoSports9:50:05
Rally216Romain DumontierTeam Dumontier Racing10:15:48
Malle Moto96Tobias EbsterKini Rally Racing Team11:00:23
Quad177Marcelo MedeirosTaguatur Racing Team12:18:38
Classic768Carlos Santaolalla*Factory Tub92 points
Mission 10007 teams7 teams7 teams20 points
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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