2024 Dakar stage 10 was a 317 km timed special in a loop around the monumental rock formations of AlUla. The stage was described as a devilish obstacle course will give the savviest competitors plenty of opportunities to capitalise on their rivals’ blunders.

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Overnight Drama

As the race seemed to have settled into a rhythm for many of the front-running teams, there was drama aplenty for the Prodrive outfit. Defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah made an exit from stage nine. Although he could have started today, he chose not to.

Read more Dakar Rally stage results at this link.

The Qatari was visibly annoyed with the way his 2024 title defense unfolded. In an interview after the stage he said in his accented English:

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to get back in this car. You know, I’ve made up my mind, I just came to say thank you, and I’m going home tonight. This year, for the Dakar, I learned something, you know, in my life and, yeah, this will never happen again.”

Al-Attiyah won three of his five Dakar titles with Toyota, including the last two years, prior to switching to Prodrive.

Keeping Station

Audi played the perfect team game during stage nine. The trio with Mattias Ekström and Stéphane Peterhansel almost drove in convoy, and finished that way to protect the lead of overall race leader Carlos Sainz.

Click here to check out some beautiful imagery captured during the first week of the 2024 race.

Sainz’s closest challenger in the overall standings is Sebastien Loeb (Prodrive Hunter). The Frenchman started today with a deficit of about 20 minutes. “No need to keep tabs on what Carlos is doing”, said the nine-time WRC champion. “No reason to be afraid either. I’ll do my race and we’ll see how it goes in the end.”

An Early Scare

Loeb had an early scare as he had to stop on the road section leading up to the start to sort out an issue with his car. However, he did make his starting time and set off to chase down his rivals.

Loeb came to a halt again early in the stage. He set off after a briefly pause and then stopped again further down the road. Just when he seemed to falling back, Sainz stopped for over ten minutes.

In the meantime, other drivers were having no such issues. Guerlain Chicherit (Overdrive Toyota) set the pace from the get-go. He was chased on the clocks by Romain Dumas (Rebellion Racing) and SA driver Brian Baragwanath (CRT).

Stage Winner

Chicherit set the fastest time in the special to claim his ninth career Dakar stage win, his first of the year. The Frenchman started in fourteenth position and seized the lead at the first time check. Baragwanath claimed second ahead of Benediktas Vanagas (Baltics Toyota). Baragwanath was the top-finishing SA driver today.

Unchanged at the Top

The overall leaderboard remains fairly unchanged today. However, Loeb has gained just over seven minutes on overall leader Sainz. The Spaniard had a big scare after coming to a halt and losing precious minutes mid-stage, but Mattias Ekström and Stéphane Peterhansel rode to his rescue. Reports suggest that Sainz used both his spare tyres and Ektrom’s too, to complete the stage.

Can the Frenchman take another seven minutes out of the leader’s time over the next two days? If he does he will claim his maiden Dakar win. With multiple second place finishes, Loeb has often been the bridesmaid, but not the bride in this prestigious event.

Overall Standings after 2024 Dakar Stage 10

  1. Carlos Sainz (Audi) 41 hr 35 min 12 sec
  2. Sebastien Loeb (BRX)  +13 min 22 sec
  3. Lucas Moraes (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +1 hr 02 min 44 sec
  4. Guillaume de Mevius (Overdrive Toyota) +1 hr 27 min 09 sec
  5. Guerlain Chicherit (Overdrive Toyota) +1 hr 47 min 55 sec
  6. Mathieu Serradori (CRT) +1 hr 48 min 59 sec
  7. Martin Prokop (Orlen) +1 hr 59 min 58 sec
  8. Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +2 hr 17 min 20 sec
  9. Guy Botterill (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +2 hr 24 min 26 sec
  10. Benediktas Vanagas (Baltics Toyota) +2 hr 40 min 51 sec