The 2022 Dakar Rally Stage 9 was much shorter than the two that preceded it. It started and ended at Wadi Ad-Dawasir. The timed section was a little under 300 km. Although it was shorter, the stage had some tricky navigation riders and drivers had to contend with.
Mattias Ekström in an Audi RS-Q E-tron claimed his first Dakar stage win in his maiden event. The two-time DTM champion was therefore given the honour of setting off first today. The Swede was followed off the line by his teammates Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz.
The Audis were first on the road, but it was the Toyotas lighting up the timesheets. After 40 km, Henk Lategan took the lead by 10 seconds over race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah with Giniel De Villiers just behind. At the 80 km mark, Lategan maintained his position, but at 118 km it was De Villiers who grabbed the lead. The Capetonian has had an eventful race thus far and wants to end the race on a high.
Sebastien Loeb, who lies second in the overall standings was the only driver to get among the Toyotas. The Frenchman was given a fine for losing one of his spare wheels in the desert, which drivers are supposed to retrieve. He climbed into the top three late in the stage, getting close to his nearest rivals.
But no one could match the pace of De Villiers as he won the day’s special in front of his teammates Lategan and Al-Attiyah, for an all-Toyota podium. This is the 18th stage win of De Villiers’ Dakar career. The quick time today has brought the South African up to P5 overall – recovering well from P9 at the end of stage 7. Mattias Ekström lost out on a second consecutive podium finish by finishing fourth. And finally, Loeb claimed fifth place, being 2 min 11 sec behind De Villiers. That time deficit means he has lost more time to Al-Attiyah in the overall classification.
A king moment
Following De Villiers’ recovery to P5 from P9, he took a moment to thank the mechanics in the team and give us a look at what’s to come: “It looks good. We had a nice clean stage today. I must say that the mechanics worked really, really hard last night because we had a problem with the dampers over the last two days or so. But they did a great job and the car was just unbelievable today. Really nice to drive, so we could push nicely. We had one slow puncture on the front left about fifty kilometres from the end, but it managed to hold out and now we’re very happy, very happy for the team.”
He adds that although the race has been challenging, and they’ve encountered some bad luck, but with three stages to go, anything can happen. “We’re looking to the future and I’m just happy that we managed to find out what the problem was with our damper. The Hilux is really good and the BF Goodrich tyres were really nice today. I don’t know why we often win at the end. It would be nice to win at the beginning as well, but we seem to do well the longer the rally goes on, so maybe the rally needs to be three weeks! We’ll try for another win, we’ll see. Like I said, our car is really nice now and we’ll try to do our best tomorrow. Of course, we have to open the road, so it will be a little more difficult. You never know… We will try our best and see what happens.”
General classification after 2022 Dakar Stage 9
- Nasser Al-Attiyah (Gazoo Hilux) 23 hr 52 min 22 sec
- Sébastien Loeb (BRX) +39 min 05 sec
- Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Hilux) +58 min 44 sec
- Orlando Terranova (BRX) +1 hr 36 min 09 sec
- Giniel de Villiers (Toyota) +1 hr 45 min 01 sec
- Jakub Przygonski (X-Raid Mini) +1 hr 46 min 04 sec
- Vladimir Vasilyev (VRT) +1 hr 48 min 03 sec
- Martin Prokop (Orlen) +2 hr 04 min 28 sec
- Sebastian Halpern (X-Raid Mini) +2 hr 14 min 52 sec
- Matthieu Serradori (SRT) +2 hr 33 min 42 sec
Great insight about what goes through the competitors’ minds during the stage: