Carlos Sainz has hit back in Dakar’s battle of the former team-mates – the Spaniard pulling six minutes out of his former Citroën colleague Sébastien Loeb through Monday’s stage in Saudi Arabia.
All was looking good for Loeb at the 227-mile waypoint of the Al Duwadimi to Ha’il test with the Frenchman carving another three minutes out of Sainz’s advantage.
Then it started to go awry. There was cosmetic damage to the Hunter after a heavy landing in some camel grass bent the bull bar. The biggest dent would be in Loeb’s stage time. He got lost, missed a waypoint and had to turn back.
Instead of gaining three minutes, he ended up losing six. Sainz’s lead now stands at 19 minutes.
“We were pushing hard all the stage with a good rhythm,” said Loeb, “but on one way point we struggled to find it and lost around ten minutes, so that was very frustrating.”
Having promised DirtFish a better Monday than Sunday, three-time Dakar winner Sainz delivered.
He said: “I think there’s still a long way for me and there are long stages to come. You can see how easy it is to lose five or ten minutes on this race. It’s so easy, due to navigation, punctures, everything… It’s very stressful. But it was all good today.”
Lucas Moraes is now an hour off the lead in the best Toyota, with Guillaume de Mevius continuing to impress on his top-level debut in fourth, 1h30m off the pace in his customer Toyota Hilux.
There was tragic news in the Bikes’ race after Carles Falcon, a rider competing under ‘Original’ rules without a support crew, succumbed to injuries he had sustained on the second stage of the rally.
Falcon had suffered a heavy fall on the Al Henakiyah to Al Duwadimi stage and been airlifted to hospital after his condition was assessed at the scene of his crash. He was subsequently transferred to a hospital in Saudi capital Riyadh, then repatriated to Spain for further treatment.