Orlando Terranova took Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s second stage victory of the Dakar Rally, while team-mate Sébastien Loeb has been demoted to third overall after dropping 25 minutes with navigation issues.
Terranova, who joined the Prodrive-run effort after last year’s event, fended off a stern challenge from Audi’s Mattias Ekström in the closing segment of the second Riyadh loop to claim his first stage win since 2015 and seventh in his career.
He finished 1m06s clear of Ekström at the finish, while Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al Rajhi leapfrogged past Loeb in the overall classification with the third fastest time.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah still holds a mammoth lead of the event, 50 minutes clear of Al Rajhi and Loeb.
The 215.9-mile loop starting east of Riyadh and finishing in the Saudi capital was the same special that the bikes and quads contested on Thursday, with the two-wheeled competitors taking on the shorter stage the cars negotiated for SS5.
A veritable mixture of fast open tracks, rocky sections through canyons and level one and two dunes near the finish presented the crews with plenty of challenges to overcome before finally getting a chance to breathe on the rest day.
Given the amount of rain which hit the region over the past week, tracks were difficult to spot, meaning that navigation and roadbook loyalty were crucial to a good time.
The first two on the road, SS5 winner Henk Lategan and runner-up Loeb, quickly found out just how demanding the navigation turned out to be as both got lost early on the stage. Lategan shipped 15 minutes while Loeb coughed up a costly 25.
It was worse news for Audi’s Carlos Sainz, who stopped before the second waypoint with apparent mechanical issues. Just like the previous stage, team-mate Stéphane Peterhansel sacrificed his own stage to assist Sainz.
That allowed Al-Attiyah to lead the special over Al Rajhi, with the pair each taking turns at the top of the standings.
Al Rajhi led Al-Attiyah by seven seconds at the second waypoint, before Al-Attiyah moved ahead by 17s at the third. Al Rajhi then fought back to lead by seven at the next waypoint before dropping time to the charging Terranova and Ekström.
Al-Attiyah, despite starting seventh on the road and so arguably having the most favorable conditions, appeared to take it easy and dropped to five minutes off the lead as Terranova and Ekström began their own battle for supremacy.
Ekström and navigator Emil Bergkvist took chunks out of the fastest times through the stage and were 24s behind at the penultimate waypoint. But Ekström eventually settled for second, just over a minute adrift.
Al Rajhi finished the stage third ahead of SRT Racing’s Brian Baragwanath and BRX’s Nani Roma.
Bernhard ten Brinke continued his strong form with the sixth best time, just over four minutes shy of Terranova and tied on time with Toyota’s Shameer Variawa. WRC2 regular Martin Prokop took his Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country to eighth, and Wei Han was ninth in his SMG.
Further back, X-raid Mini’s Laia Sanz put in her best stage performance to date to end up just 15 minutes behind Terranova’s fastest time as the former biker continues her transition to four wheels on rally raids.
Stage 6 (Riyadh– Riyadh) result
1 Orlando Terranova/Dani Oliveras Carreras (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) 3h06m45s
2 Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist (Audi) +1m06s
3 Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr (Overdrive Toyota) +1m49s
4 Brian Baragwanath/Leonard Cremer (Century) +3m06s
5 Nani Roma/Alex Haro Bravo (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) +3m34s
6 Bernhard ten Brinke/Sébastien Delaunay (Overdrive Toyota) +4m06s
7 Shameer Variawa/Danie Stassen (Toyota) +4m06s
8 Martin Prokop/Viktor Chytka (Benzina Orlen Ford) +5m45s
9 Wei Han/Li Ma (HanWei SMG) + 5m58s
10 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel (Toyota) +6m16s
Overall standings after SS6
1 Al-Attiyah/Baumel (Toyota) 20h37m24s
2 Al Rajhi/Orr (Overdrive Toyota) +50m19s
3 Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) +50m25s
4 Lucio Alvarez/Armand Monleon (Overdrive Toyota +1h06m58s
5 Kuba Przygónski/Timo Gottschalk (X-raid Mini) +1h16m25s
6 Vladimir Vasilyev/Oleg Uperenko (VRT Team BMW) +1h22m08s
7 Terranova/Oliveras Carreras (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) +1h24m00s
8 Prokop/Chytka (Benzina Orlen Ford) +1h30m30s
9 Sebastian Halpern/Bernardo Graue (X-raid Mini) +1h37m25s
10 Vaidotas Žala/Paulo Fiúza (X-raid Mini) +2h11m17s
Red Bull take 1-2, but Lopez Contardo remains in T3 lead
Seth Quintero continued his quest for as many Dakar stage victories as he can manage with yet another dominant performance ahead of the rest day in Riyadh. The Red Bull Off-Road Junior USA driver headed team-mate Cristina Gutierréz by 11 minutes while the T3 Lightweight Prototype leader Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez Contardo was third quickest, a further two minutes adrift.
Lopez Contardo remains firmly in control of the overall classification and extended his margin over EKS South Racing team-mate Sebastian Eriksson by just under a minute to take a 23-minute advantage into the rest day.
In the SSVs, Cobant-Energyland’s Marek Goczał took his second stage win of the event, beating overall leader Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira by just over three minutes, with Sergey Kariakin two seconds back in third for Snag Racing.
Austin Jones had a difficult stage and dropped further adrift of de Oliveira in the overall, finishing five-and-a-half minutes off Goczał’s stage-winning time. He now trails de Oliveira by nearly seven minutes heading into the second week.