The second week of the 2021 Dakar Rally has already proven to be tougher than week one. The overnight news after stage eight was the retirement of Sebastien Loeb (read our stage 8 report here). The nine-time WRC champ called it quits after suffering yet more mechanical issues. 2021 Dakar stage 9 was a loop to and from the town of Neom. Total stage distance was 579 km with 465 km being a timed, competitive section. This stage took competitors along the Red Sea for a change of scenery, but also went inland for rocky and sandy conditions.
The story of the car category for 2021 has been the duel between the two-wheel-drive Mini Buggy of Stephane Peterhansel and the all-wheel-drive Toyota Hilux of Nasser Al-Attiyah. 2021 Dakar Stage 9 was no different as the Qatari tried to cut down the deficit to the Frenchman. The pair traded times throughout the stage but the Mini driver seemed to have the upper hand.
A few fast chargers ran near the top of the timesheets through the stage, including South Africans Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Hilux) and Brian Baragwanath (Century CR6) along with Frenchman Mathieu Serradori (Century CR6), the latter even took the lead late in the day. The French driver looked set to claim the stage win until he broke down with just a few kilometres left. The stage win went to Peterhansel who finished 12 minutes ahead of his main rival Al-Attiyah. Incredibly it is the Frenchman’s first victory of the 2021 rally, despite leading the timesheets for almost the entire event. De Villiers claimed a podium spot on 2021 Dakar stage 9. Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi was fourth in front of Baragwanath.
In the overall standings Peterhansel extended his lead over Al-Attiyah to almost 18 minutes. Barring late race drama the Mini driver looks on course to claim victory. Sainz’s aim to defend his crown now seems all but lost as he slipped from the leaders when he had to stop to repair a brake issue with his Mini Buggy.
General classification after 2021 Dakar Stage 9
- Stephane Peterhansel Mini 33 hours 28 min 13 sec
- Nasser Al-Attiyah Toyota +17 min 50 sec
- Carlos Sainz Mini +1 hour 02 min 25 sec
- Jakub Przygonski Toyota +2 hour 16 min 30 sec
- Nani Roma BRX +2 hours 42 min 38 sec
- Sheik Khalid Al Qassimi Peugeot +3 hours 01 min 57 sec
- Vladimir Vasilyev Mini +3 hours 10 min 17 sec
- Martin Prokop Ford +3 hours 36 min 01 sec
- Giniel de Villier Toyota +3 hours 40 min 09 sec
- Christian Lavielle Optimus +4 hours 10 min 32 sec