2019 Mint 400 winner Ricky Brabec and two-time Dakar Rally champion Carlos Sainz continued to lead this year’s event after Thursday’s trek from Al-‘Ula to Ha’il. Sainz scored his second stage victory of the year to increase his lead over 2019 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, while Brabec finished fourth in the stage, just behind fellow American rider Andrew Short.
Defending Dakar Rally motorcycle champion Toby Price earned his second stage win of 2020, just over a minute ahead of Pablo Quintanilla. Two of Thursday’s stage winners, quad winner Romain Dutu and SSV winner Cyril Despres, triumphed by less than a minute. Despres, who resumed his event under Dakar Experience rules, beat Poland’s Aron Domzala by 41 seconds in the smallest margin of victory of the day. He also became the first racer to win a stage in three separate classes, having previously taken motorcycle and car victories.
Brabec’s overall lead on Price is somewhat comfortable at more than nine minutes, while Casey Currie is back to within 1:10 of retaking the SSV class lead from Russia’s Sergei Kariakin after a seventh place finish today. Ignacio Casale’s lead in the quad class continues to expand, as he holds a 31-minute advantage over Giovanni Enrico, while Kamaz teammates Andrey Karginov and Anton Shibalov sit first and second in the truck class.
After Adrien Van Beveren dropped out of the event in Stage 3 and Xavier de Soultrait abandoned it a day later, Red Bull KTM’s Sam Sunderland became the third high profile rider to post a DNF in three days after a major crash led to back and shoulder injuries.
Only one stage remains before the Dakar Rally takes a rest day at its halfway point in Riyadh, with 477 kilometers of special stages standing between racers and a well-earned day off. With sand from start to finish and plenty of dunes to challenge drivers, it’ll reward veterans of the event from before its tenure in South America.