Dakar Rally Stage 9: Sainz follows Loeb home, Brabec opens lead on Branch

Sebastien Loeb won the ninth stage on January 16. Picture: Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool.

Sebastien Loeb won the ninth stage on January 16. Picture: Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool.

Published Jan 16, 2024


By: Motorsport Media

It was static at the top of the car leaderboard on Stage 9 of the 2024 Dakar Rally, but the bike lead opened up. Challenger Sebastien Loeb won the day’s car stage as overall leader Sainz kept a watching brief in second, with the usual South African presence at the top of the leader board. And on two wheels, SA champion Bradley Cox starred as Ricky Brabec opened his lead over Ross Branch.

Second overall, Sebastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin started the day as they had to in their Prodrive Hunter, if they were to whittle down overall leaders Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz in the petrol-electric Audi.

Sainz played it safe in fifth behind Audi teammates Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist, the ever-present Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq’s Toyota Hilux and third overall Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon’s similar Gazoo car.

Moraes and Sainz moved up to second and third, with the two of them swapping those positions as they progressed. Guillaume de Mevius and Xavier Panseri’s Hilux was a consistent third from Ekström, Hilux trio, Chicherit and Gazoo pair, South Africans Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, and Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz ahead of 4x2 leaders, Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier’s SA Century.

Sainz however took control of second as he monitored Loeb’s advantage versus the Audi man’s overall lead. There was a shake-up behind as the pack approached the finish, as Loeb took the day from Sainz by just over four minutes. Serradori was the man on the move powering his rear drive Century to a welcome podium on the day, from de Mevius, rookie leader Botterill in a fine fifth, and a resurgent Stéphane Peterhansel’s Audi.

Giniel De Villiers and Dennis Murphy are fifth overall. Picture: Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool.

Denis Krotov was sixth in his Hilux, from Moraes and Ekström, who both slipped back, and Romain Dumas’ Hilux in tenth. SA crew Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer’s 4x4 Century came home twelfth from Nani Roma’s SA Ford Ranger and de Villiers who dropped back to 12th. Gazoo Hilux duo Seth Quinteiro and Saood Variawa were 18th and 19th and Aliyyah Koloc 29th in her Red-Lined REVO+.

Sainz now leads Loeb by 20 minutes, with Moraes over an hour back in third. De Mevius sits fourth from Giniel de Villiers and Serradori well ahead among the 4x2s. Rookie leader Botterill is ninth, Variawa 20th and Koloc 26th with the rest well back and carrying penalties. Half the cars that started Dakar remain in the main race.

Brabec extends bike lead

In the bike race, Ricky Brabec struck hard from the outset, leading Toby Price’s KTM, van Beveren, Luciano Benavides’ Husqvarna, and Honda duo Pablo Quintanilla and Jose Florimo. Ross Branch sat eleventh on his Hero, behind Rally 2 leader, SA youngster Bradley Cox on his BAS KTM.

Ross Branch is still running in second. Picture: Hero / Motorsport Media.

Van Beveren then moved into the lead as Brabec faded to fourth, but the Californian was back in front by mid distance from van Beveren, Quintanilla, a rampant Cox, and a recovering Branch. Van Beveren then passed Quintanilla, and then Brabec to win the day from Brabec, Quintanilla, Price, and Branch.

Branch surrendered almost seven minutes to Brabec in the overall chase, with van Beveren third anther four minutes adrift. Bradley Cox rode home a fine tenth to take the Rally 2 win to move up to 14th overall and fourth in Rally 2.

Of the other South Africans, Husqvarna pair Charan Moore was 19th on the day and sits 19th overall and 7th in R2, while Zimbabwean Ash Thixton ended 48th, ahead of KTM Ronald Venter and Stuart Gregory in the pack.

Wednesday’s 371 km loop around Al’Ula should prove decisive. Mainly on dirt tracks, with a little sand and dunes en route, only three days remain of Dakar 2024. Your Dakar Daily Report is powered by Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa and Tork Craft tools.

Motorsport Media

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