Dakar Day 10: Proudly South African Gazoo Hilux leads cars, but its all change in the bikes

Proudly South African Toyota Gazoo Racing stars Nasser Al Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel kept an iron fist on their overall 2022 Dakar Rally lead on Day 10 in Saudi Arabia. Petrol-electric Audi duo Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz dominated the day's 384 km car race to Bisha. KTM rider Toby Price meanwhile made up for a disastrous day for KTM by winning Wednesday’s race. But Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren moved back into the 2 wheeler lead.

While it was all about the Toyotas among the cars Tuesday, it was the chance of the Audi Sport RS Q e-trons to dominate on Wednesday as the Hiluxes opened the road. It may have taken Mr. Dakar a while, but Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger finally scored his 49th Dakar day win. They fought teammates Sainz and Lucas Cruz off for the honour. That moved Peterhansel to just one stage win short of Dakar legend Ari Vatanen’s record 50 stage victories in Audi’s third stage win of 2022.

Orlando Terranova and Daniel Carreras came home third in their BRX Hunter, ahead of the best of the South Africans, Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings’ Gazoo Toyota Hilux. Sebastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin’s Hunter was next from Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk’s Mini. Overall leaders Al Attiyah and Baumel’s Gazoo Hilux in seventh, to keep their lead to Loeb and Lurquin above 30 minutes. That despite a 5 minute seatbelt penalty overnight. Yazeed Al Rajhi and Michael Orr’s Hilux is third from Terranova and Przygonski.

Tuesday winners, SA crew Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy’s Gazoo Hilux had a tougher day in 15th, as they slipped to sixth overall behind Przygonski. Compatriots, Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer’s SA built Century CR6 was 20th, Chris Visser and Rodney Burke’s similar machine 22nd and Shameer Variawa and Danie Stassen’s Gazoo Hilux 23rd. Century pair, Ernest Roberts and Henry Kohne were 32nd and Schalk Burger and Henk Janse van Vuuren 47th. SA navigators, Taye Perry ended 19th and Ryan Bland 57th.

Wednesday claimed another major bike scalp as 2021 winner and an overall contender for 2022 honours, Kevin Benavides retired with mechanical problems. KTM’s day went even worse, when overnight leader lost over seven minutes, something he could ill afford in such a tight race. Polish privateer Maciej Gizema was the surprise leader early on in a close race, before the big guns took over at the front. Juan Barreda's Honda then led until mid distance, when teammate Pablo Quintanilla took over.

But Toby Price was having none of it and made up for KTM’s earlier disappointment to move ahead later in the day and take a two minute win. Luciano Benavides’ Husqvarna was second from Barreda, van Beveren's Yamaha, Lorenzo Santolino's Sherco and Andrew Short's Yamaha after Quintanilla also lost time later on. The upshot of that is that Adrien van Beveren has moved back into a 5 minute bike lead over Sam Sunderland’s Gas Gas, Quintailla, Walkner, Barreda and Price.

South African Aron Mare finished 16th on his Hero and sits 17th overall. His rookie compatriot, Bradley Cox was 30th on the day and sits 27th overall on his KTM. Original class quartet, SA rookie, Charan Moore was 46th and sixth in the no-service category, and Botswana's John Kelly 46th and 7th in class. Fellow ‘Malle Moto’ SA men, Stuart Gregory was 65th overall and 16th in class and Werner Kennedy 94th overall and 23rd in Original. Swaziland’s Walter Terblanche was 87th and Mozambican Paulo Oliveira 100th on the day.

In the other Dakar classes, Marcelo Medeiros took the quad win in a decimated field. Overall leader Alex Giroud cruised to third after closest rival Pablo Copetti also hit trouble. Overall leader Austin Jones maintained a watching brief in the Side by Sides, while new UTV leader Seth Quintero led Christinia Gutierrez home. And overall leader Sotnikov was in charge of a Kamaz 1-2-3-4 among the trucks.

Just 510 kilometres of racing remain of the 4,000 km Dakar 2022 over the final two days. Thursday is a 346 km blast around Bisha, before the final 164 run to Jeddah on Friday.