The big news on 2024 Dakar Rally 8 was the retirement of defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah. He suffered engine trouble which meant he could not finish the stage. Read more Dakar Rally stage results at this link. 2024 Dakar stage 9 was a 436 km timed special from Hail to AlUla. The latter part of the stage featured tricky navigation as well a rocky plateau to deal with.

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Bad to Worse

Al-Attiyah received a stage penalty of 20 hours and 20 minutes after taking a new engine for his Prodrive Hunter. He was placed 87th position in the general rankings almost 30 hours behind Carlos Sainz. The aim was to play a support role to his teammate Loeb. However, shortly after starting, the Qatari made a u-turn to join the public road due to a mechanical problem.

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

Team Game

By virtue of winning stage eight, Mattias Ekstrom (Audi) opened the road today. He was followed by his teammate Stephane Peterhansel. However, both men are far down the rankings, while their teammate Carlos Sainz is the overall race leader.

As expected, Ekstrom pushed on to leave tracks for the men behind. Peterhansel slowed to let other drivers by and waited for Sainz. Once Sainz has passed ‘Mr Dakar’ took up station behind the race leader to provide immediate support should something go wrong.

Stage Winner

The strategic game worked and the three Audis finished the stage almost line astern. In doing so the team has protected their lead driver and overall lead in the race. This is Audi’s last chance to win this illustrious race as the German outfit will not return in 2025, instead moving its focus to its imminent Formula One entry.

On his ace, Loeb pushed as much as he dared and set a blistering time over the 400+km stage. He took the the stage win, the 27th of his career. Sainz was second ahead of an excellent performance by Mathieu Serradori in the 2WD CRT. which is built in SA. Guillaume de Mevius (Overdrive Toyota) was fourth. Dakar rookie Guy Botterill stormed to a fifth place today. The next South African driver was Botterill’s teammate Giniel de Villiers in 12th.

Unchanged at the Top

Loeb may have put in a flyer today, but he has not managed to make any real inroads to Sainz’s lead. ‘El Matador’ holds a 20-minute lead over his closest rival. Moraes holds station in third in front of De Mevius. De Villiers remains the top placed SA driver in fifth place.

*Edited to add: Long after the stage had finished De Villiers was slapped with a 15-minute penalty for missing a waypoint. This means he was classified 23rd on the stage and falls down the overall rankings as well (table below has been updated to reflect his new position).

Overall Standings after 2024 Dakar Stage 9

  1. Carlos Sainz (Audi) 37 hr 50 min 57 sec
  2. Sebastien Loeb (BRX)  +20 min 33 sec
  3. Lucas Moraes (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +1 hr 12 min 02 sec
  4. Guillaume de Mevius (Overdrive Toyota) +1 hr 39 min 56 sec
  5. Mathieu Serradori (CRT) +2 hr 03 min 44 sec
  6. Guerlain Chicherit (Overdrive Toyota) +2 hr 12 min 43 sec
  7. Martin Prokop (Orlen) +2 hr 12 min 48 sec
  8. Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +2 hr 15 min 12 sec
  9. Guy Botterill (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +2 hr 29 min 51 sec
  10. Benediktas Vanagas (Baltics Toyota) +2 hr 59 min 35 sec