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Dakar 2024: De Soultrait goes down the wire

Dakar 2024: De Soultrait goes down the wire

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Xavier De Soultrait and his co-pilot Martin Bonnet can stop holding their breath now that they have made it to the finish. Nonetheless, it was a close thing for the two Frenchman in their Polaris. For this Dakar, the American factory went one step further, developing a lighter, sharper, higher-performance RZR PRO R. The recipe worked from the outset, with the Sébastien Loeb Racing (SLR) duo taking victory on the prologue to give a foretaste of what was to come. De Soultrait was a regular and consistent performer and also took advantage of the ups and downs experienced by some of his rivals, such as Gerard Farrés, to make his way to the top of the race hierarchy, which he reached on the evening of stage 7. With three victories to his name, João Ferreira did try to play spoilsport, but the Portuguese driver lost more than an hour at the end of stage 9. After respectively winning stages 10 and 11, Sara Price and Jérôme de Sadeleer then placed themselves among the contenders. Following a penalty on stage 10, ‘XDS’ only had a lead of a little more than ten minutes over the American, who put herself out of the race for the title the following day by losing more than one hour due to a navigation mistake. As for de Sadeleer, he almost succeeded in his mission by coming to within three minutes of the leader with 174 kilometres left before the finish. However, like an old Dakar veteran, de Soultrait held on. He did not let his Swiss rival out of his sight and in the end only lost around twenty seconds overall. As a result, he has won his first tile on the Dakar. To complete an already rich harvest for the Polaris camp, Florent Vayssade, de Soultrait's team-mate, won the final special stage. It was a successful gamble for Polaris, who put an end to an almost unchallenged reign by Can-Am.

 

Source: A.S.O.
Photos: A.S.O./F.Gooden/DPPI

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