It’s still early, but the path to redemption after disappointing Dakar Rally results in 2019 just got a little bit clearer for Monster Energy Honda’s Ricky Brabec and Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team’s Carlos Sainz. Brabec, who fell out of last year’s race while leading, and Sainz, who finished 13th after setbacks of his own, each won Tuesday’s Neom loop stage, the second leg of the two-day super marathon stage that limited racer resources. As a result, they now lead the motorcycle and car classes overall, respectively.
But Brabec’s triumph wasn’t the only strong result for American racers on the day. Sophomore Dakar competitor Casey Currie vowed to crack the SSV podium this year after a fourth place debut in 2019, and wrangled the overall lead from defending winner Chaleco Lopez after a third place finish on Tuesday. Currie’s lead on Lopez sits at a slim 15 seconds, while fellow Americans AJ Jones and Mitch Guthrie Jr. are also holding steady as Dakar rookies in fifth and seventh in the class, respectively.
The gaps are slightly larger for Brabec, who sits 4:43 ahead of Argentinian teammate Kevin Benavides, and Sainz, whose lead over defending Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah is just under five minutes. Matthias Walkner sits in third, best of the Red Bull KTM contingent, as Honda and KTM occupy eight of the top 10 spots in the current standings. Orlando Terranova completes the top three in the car class, as each racer in the top 10 remains within an hour of the lead. Meanwhile, after spending more than two hours repairing his own vehicle yesterday, Fernando Alonso bounced back with a fifth place finish in today’s action to claw back to 32nd in the standings.
On quads, Giovanni Enrico snapped Ignacio Casale’s two-stage win streak, but Casale remains the overall leader by 14:29 over Rafal Sonik. In truck action, Andrey Karginov became the third stage winner in three days, followed by Stage 2 winner Siarhei Viazovich and Stage 1 winner Anton Shibalov; Viazovich remains the overall leader by 2:18 over Karginov.
Today’s Dakar highlight show from Neom will air at 6PM ET/3PM PT on the NBC Sports Network. Following today’s Neom loop stage, Wednesday’s Stage 4 will take drivers from Neom to Al-`Ula through a mix of sand and gravel tracks.