Nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb erased some of the bad luck that plagued him through the early stages of this year’s Dakar Rally with a victory in Friday’s return from Tacna to Arequipa. Loeb’s stage time of 4:56:34 gave him today’s victory by just over 10 minutes, and also enabled him to regain a top five spot in the overall rankings of one of the few events he’s never won in his racing career.
But the field remains in pursuit of Nasser Al-Attiyah, whose consistent performances for Toyota Gazoo Racing still have him on top of the overall standings. A runner-up stage finish today enabled last year’s Dakar runner-up to extend his lead to 24:42 over 13-time event winner Stephane Peterhansel and the X-Raid Mini JCW Team. Two-time Dakar champion Nani Roma completes the podium as they run headed into Saturday’s rest day.
American Ricky Brabec retains his overall top spot in the Motorcycle category, but his lead has shrunk to just 59 seconds over Sam Sunderland after yet another day of roulette in the standings. Sunderland won today’s trek from Moquegua back to Arequipa by 3:23 over Wednesday winner Xavier de Soultrait, with defending Dakar winner Matthias Walkner completing today’s top three. Brabec finished just outside of the top 10, 6:46 adrift of Sunderland in 11th.
Defending Side-by-Side champion Reinaldo Varela was on track to earn a stage win at press time, his first since opening the rally atop the charts from Lima to Pisco. Varela boasted a nearly six-minute advantage over Rodrigo Moreno at the ninth waypoint. On the UTV Open front, despite some miscommunication at the start of the day, Robby Gordon remains alive in the Car rankings; however, Gordon’s teammate Cole Potts skipped today’s stage and will rejoin the rally on Sunday.
Nicolas Cavigliasso remains in complete control of the Quad race after winning Friday’s stage and extending his overall lead to 49:30 over Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli. Eduard Nikolaev did the same with the Trucks, which he now leads by 11:54 over teammate Dmitry Sotnikov.
Fans looking to watch the second half of Dakar Rally coverage on NBCSN can see recap shows at the following times next week:
- Sunday, January 13, 11:30PM ET
- Monday, January 14, 6PM ET
- Tuesday, January 15, 6PM ET
- Tuesday, January 15, 6:30PM ET
- Wednesday, January 16, 6PM ET
- Thursday, January 17, 1AM ET
- Thursday, January 17, 1:30AM ET
- Thursday, January 17, 5:30PM ET
- Friday, January 18, 1:30AM ET
- Friday, January 18, 8:30PM ET