Tuesday saw the 2023 Dakar Rally return from a much needed rest day with Sébastien Loeb, Lucas Moraes, Toby Price and Rokas Baciuška all shining at the epic rally-raid adventure.
With the rest day disappearing in the rearview mirror, Stage Nine arrived at the edge of the Empty Quarter desert with changes to the car race podium as WRC legend Loeb and co-driver Fabian Lurquin bagged a stage win in their Prodrive BRX Hunter to fight back up to third overall.
With Dakar rookie Moraes and co-driver Timo Gottschalk now up to second overall ahead of him, Frenchman Loeb felt positive about the stage.
“It was a good stage. Navigation was tough, especially where the motorbikes hadn’t left many lines,” Loeb said. “But it was not just us, it was complicated for everyone.”
It was clear that Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Price used the rest day well with the two-time Dakar winner finishing just three seconds off the lead and teammate Kevin Benavides third.
“It was good to be able to give it a good hit today,” Price said.
T3 race leader Guillaume De Mevius extended his lead as the Belgian and co-driver François Cazalet got the chance to test their OT3 against a race truck en route to second with the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich crews of A.J. Jones/Gustavo Gugelmin and Seth Quintero/Dennis Zenz still second and third respectively.
Rokas Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Vidal still lead the T4 class after earning a Tuesday second.
“It was important to keep a healthy buggy, because tomorrow we are going to the Empty Quarter,” Baciuška said. “It should be even more interesting there.”
Wednesday’s Stage 10 features just 114km of timed racing – a very short stage compared to a usual Dakar day – however almost the entire distance is over the dangerous dunes of the Empty Quarter.