2024 Dakar Rally: Teamwork makes the dream work in Stage 9

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Credit: Frederic Le Floc'h/DPPI

Monster Energy Honda Rally Team has been putting on a clinic at the 2024 Dakar Rally, and they upped their ante on Tuesday as they swept the RallyGP Stage #9 podium with Adrien Van Beveren leading Ricky Brabec and Pablo Quintanilla. Brabec’s runner-up finish to Ross Branch‘s fifth allows him to build some more distance between the two, ballooning it from just forty-two seconds after Stage #8 to over seven minutes.

The Honda trio dominated the stage as Van Beveren and Brabec led all ten waypoints with Quintanilla in tow. Van Beveren, aided by five and a half minutes in time bonuses after quickly catching Monday’s winner Kevin Benavides and runner-up Luciano Benavides, also moved past his team-mate José Ignacio Cornejo for third overall, four minutes behind Branch. Cornejo finished seventh, stymied by an error before the refuel point.

“Today was possibly one of my only shots to make a big push and try to make a bit bigger gap than forty or fifty seconds so I gave it my all today,” Brabec commented. “I think tomorrow we’re probably going to have to open but if I can clean up I think we’ll be set free. In the 2020 Dakar, I pulled a gap early on and this has definitely been the most stressful race of my life because it’s so close. Anyway, with a few more days to go, let’s keep the hopes up and keep charging.”

Strategy also played a critical role on the FIA side as Team Audi Sport hoped to put as much distance between their last remaining contender Carlos Sainz and his rival Sébastien Loeb, who has been on a tear in recent days. While Loeb went on to claim his fourth stage win, Sainz had his team-mate Stéphane Peterhansel—who was no longer in position to vie for the overall win—drive alongside him as insurance should the race go awry. Their other colleague Mattias Ekström started the stage as Monday’s winner, and he was entrusted with navigating the route ahead of them in a pseudo-recce role.

This approach paid off as Sainz finished second behind Loeb by four minutes. Although this narrows the gap, he still has a twenty-minute advantage on Loeb with three days remaining.

Mathieu Serradori joined Loeb and Sainz on the podium as he notched Century Racing‘s best finish of the rally, rebounding after a tumultuous race for their factory programme. Conversely, Nasser Al-Attiyah‘s nightmare continued when his engine failed yet again after completing a single kilometre; Prodrive had worked overtime to replace the motor, the previous model having blown on Monday. A frustrated Al-Attiyah commented after the stage, “I don’t want to jump again in this car.”

Vaidotas Žala, a former Prodrive competitor, was also not safe from engine failures when his Mini blew up. Vladas Jurkevičius, who races a Toyota Hilux like Al-Attiyah’s old ride, had a broken driveshaft just twenty kilometres in.

Even the lower categories weren’t safe. In SSV, the last two days’ victor João Ferreira lost fuel pressure forty-six km into the leg which his fellow Can-Am Cristiano de Sousa Batista capitalised upon. Malle Moto competitor Bruno Leblanc‘s Dakar came to an end when he broke his collarbone after getting thrown off his bike at KM 150; fellow solo rider Vincent Biau accompanied him until he could be airlifted out.

Nicolás Cavigliasso and Gert Huzink won their first stages of 2024 in Challenger and Truck, respectively.

Stage #9 winners

Ultimate (T1)203Sébastien Loeb*Bahrain Raid Xtreme4:17:33
Stock (T2)501Ronald Basso*Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body7:39:14
Challenger (T3)312Nicolás CavigliassoWevers Sport4:47:58
SSV (T4)414Cristiano de Sousa BatistaSouth Racing Can-Am5:02:30
Truck (T5)615Gert Huzink*Jongbloed Dakar Team5:04:34
RallyGP42Adrien Van BeverenMonster Energy Honda Rally Team4:36:46
Rally218Bradley CoxBAS World KTM Racing Team4:49:40
Malle Moto96Tobias EbsterKini Rally Racing Team5:06:55
Quad172Alexandre GiroudDrag’on Rally Team5:49:34
Classic768Carlos Santaolalla*Factory Tub43 points
Mission 10002 teams2 teams2 teams20 points
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Leaders after Stage #9

Ultimate (T1)204Carlos SainzTeam Audi Sport37:50:57
Stock (T2)500Akira Miura*Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body63:52:10
Challenger (T3)303Mitch GuthrieRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team42:09:25
SSV (T4)411Xavier de Soultrait*Sébastien Loeb Racing44:53:33
Truck (T5)601Martin Macík Jr.*MM Technology43:26:01
RallyGP9Ricky BrabecMonster Energy Honda Rally Team40:53:49
Rally216Romain DumontierTeam Dumontier Racing43:18:22
Malle Moto96Tobias EbsterKini Rally Racing Team46:25:19
Quad174Manuel Andújar7240 Team51:07:27
Classic768Carlos Santaolalla*Factory Tub760 points
Mission 10001030Jordi Juvanteny*KH7-Ecovergy Team125 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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