Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Hélder Rodrigues on the podium of stage 10 of Dakar

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Hélder Rodrigues was today the 3rd fastest among T3 in the tenth stage of the Dakar Rally 2023, which was held between Haradh and Shaybah. This is, for now, the best result of the Portuguese driver in his debut in the Dakar auto competition. With only 113 chronometers in a demanding course, mostly through fine sand dunes in the Saudi Arabian desert, Hélder Rodrigues, very well navigated by Gonçalo Reis, finally had the chance to express his performance in a day when the limitations to which he has been subjected didn't show up.

"I'm very satisfied. I made the podium and today I got my best result in this Dakar. It was a beautiful dune stage. I haven't done dunes like this for a long time. The last time was five years ago on motorcycles. It was a return to the sensations we experienced then. We have been trying to improve and we are clearly more competitive than last week. The first week was complicated. We had a problem in the car which showed a lack of power, but fortunately this is already solved and we will continue and try to do even better", said Helder Rodrigues at the end of another day of the Dakar Rally.

Tomorrow the 11th stage of the Dakar 2023 Rally will be disputed, between Shaybah and Empty Quarter, where the first part of the marathon stage will be accomplished, which means that at the end of the 273km selective sector the competitors will not be able to count on their assistance team to check their vehicles.


Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version available on www.todoterreno.pt
Source Helder Rodrigues official press release

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Hero Motosports achieves second stage win at the Dakar Rally 2023

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Dakar 2023 is turning out to be historic for Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters - Hero MotoCorp.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally emerged victorious in a Stage for the second time at the Dakar Rally 2023, making this the Indian manufacturer’s second stage win at this year’s edition and the third stage win overall, at the toughest race in the world.
Ross Branch bagged the top position of Stage 10, adding a second Stage Win to his tally in this season of the Dakar Rally. Starting the stage at the 28th position, he posted the fastest time at each checkpoint, and finally emerged the winner of the first stage in the Empty Quarter.
Since its first Dakar appearance in 2017, the seven-year young Indian manufacturer team has been constantly pushing the boundaries to make it into the league of top teams that have been leading the ranks for several decades. Hero MotoSports Team Rally became the only Indian manufacturer to have ever won at the Dakar with a Stage win in 2022.
Fueled by a strong passion to succeed in this difficult sport, the team has put in thousands of hours for rider training and towards developing a highly competitive race bike – the Hero 450 Rally. A second victory today at the Dakar 2023 serves as a testament to the team’s unwavering dedication, and their machine’s capability to survive and win at the toughest of challenges.
Having showcased a highly consistent performance so far in the Rally, Franco Caimi finished the stage yet again in the top-10, at the 8th place in the Rally GP class – just four minutes behind Ross. Sebastian Buhler made it to the finish line in the 17th fastest time among Rally GP class riders.
Leaving the bivouac at Haradh, Stage 10 took the riders towards Shaybah today, marking its entry into the notorious Empty Quarter. The 624 km route was mostly liaisons, with the special section accounting for only 114 kms – deliberately kept short to reduce the risks in this difficult terrain constituted mainly by sand dunes. With the sun at its peak, navigating safely through the sea of steep dunes was particularly difficult for all competitors.
At the end of 10 long stages, Franco enjoys a 13th place in the overall Rally GP class rankings, followed by Buhler in the 17th, and Ross in the 19th position.
Making things a lot more complex, the race now moves deeper into Rub’ Al Khali, or the Empty Quarter, with a Marathon Stage. The first part of the marathon in Stage 11 is a 428 km trip from Shaybah, ending at the Marathon bivouac. Keeping their bikes in one piece will be crucial for the riders, as there will be no assistance trucks or mechanics to lend them a hand at the bivouac.

Wolfgang Fischer
, Team Manager: “Congratulations to Ross and the entire team! It’s indeed amazing to enter the Empty Quarter sea of dunes in great style. We’ve proved once again beyond doubt, the competitiveness of the Hero 450 Rally – a strong machine that succeeds in all conditions, and the great commitment of our Rally Team. I’m really proud of my team, and eagerly looking forward to the next stages as we enter Rub’ Al Khali, the largest continuous sand desert in the world.”

Ross Branch: “It was a really good day, though it started off slow in the morning, and I battled to get going in the sand. But I started having a lot of fun halfway through the stage. I did make a few mistakes here and there, but I pushed on really hard, and I'm so grateful to get the win at the end. It has been a long week so far, and to get two stage wins in the Dakar means a lot. The bike was really amazing today, and I'm very proud of my team. Tomorrow I'll have to open the stage - a long one at 280 odd kilometers. I hope to stay out in the front as long as I can, and keep it as safe as possible.”

Franco Caimi:
“Today was a fun stage, even though it was quite difficult navigating through the dunes without crashing. I’m happy with my result today, and looking forward to keep it steady in the marathon stage.”

Sebastian Buhler: “It was quite fast for a dune stage. The sun was right on top, which made it difficult to see ahead. Even though I enjoyed the stage, I put a safe rhythm to avoid any mistakes, as there were some big cut dunes. I couldn't find a fast flow, but let's try again tomorrow.”


Source Hero Motosports

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Kevin Benavides leads the rally after stage 10

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Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides has placed fourth on today’s stage 10 of the 2023 Dakar Rally and moves into the provisional lead of the overall standings. Toby Price completed the day in 19th but still lies third overall, just two minutes back, while Matthias Walkner enjoyed a solid day on his KTM 450 RALLY, placing fifth.

Riders left the bivouac at 3:30am this morning to cover the 467-kilometer liaison that led them to the start of today’s timed special. Although short at 114 kilometers, the route raced against the clock was predominantly made up of rolling dunes, making navigation difficult and proving a real test of endurance for all competitors.

As the seventh rider into the special following his strong performance on stage nine, Kevin Benavides was in contention for the stage win right away. Carrying good speed over the sandy terrain, the 2021 Dakar winner was just 10 seconds down on the leader by kilometer 84. Losing a little time in the closing stages, Benavides dropped to fourth place as he crossed the line, one minute from the win. However, with times tight across the top 10, Kevin’s solid ride moved him into the lead of the rally, where he enjoys a one-and-a-half-minute advantage.

Kevin Benavides: “Today was really short, but really tough physically as it was raced all in the dunes. I started off in seventh position and just tried to keep a nice flow through all the dunes and it felt really good. I did have one crash where I went over the handlebars, but it seems it might have had a positive effect because I only lost about one minute and that means I set of fourth into tomorrow’s stage 11.”

After losing time in the desert yesterday following a navigational error, Matthias Walkner bounced back in style on stage 10. Posting the fifth fastest time on the demanding special, Walkner moves back inside the top 10 overall and will be aiming to elevate himself even higher over the remaining four days of racing.

Matthias Walkner: “I had a good day today. I really like this sort of terrain and was able to make up good time across the dunes. I wasn’t pushing too hard at first because I didn’t want to lose time like I did yesterday, but then towards the end I was able to increase my pace toward the finish. I’m feeling a lot stronger now, and coming in fifth today puts me in a good place for tomorrow’s marathon stage.”

Toby Price was the second rider to enter today’s special, and again, using his skill and experience to good effect, chose to navigate carefully through the dunes to minimize any costly errors. With the leaders’ times extremely close over the short special, Toby ultimately completed the day in 19th, but only eight minutes down on the leader. As such, the Aussie remains very much in contention near the top of the overall standings where he now lies third.

Toby Price:Today was a long day – we were up at 2:30am, but then just a short special. I tried to pace myself a little today to make sure I didn’t make any big mistakes and to also get a good start for tomorrow’s longer stage. I dropped down a little in the standings, but didn’t lose too much time, and now hopefully I’m well-placed to attack tomorrow. So far so good.”

Thursday’s stage 11 marks the first half of the Empty Quarter marathon stage, where riders will spend the night in the desert and receive no outside help from their teams. Totaling 427 kilometers, the stage will include a dune-filled timed special of 274 kilometers.

Provisional Results – 2023 Dakar Rally, Stage 10

1. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 1:44:00
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 1:44:21
3. Michael Docherty (ZAF), Husqvarna, 1:44:30
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 1:45:00
5. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 1:45:22
Other KTM
7. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 1:47:05 +3:05
19. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 1:52:16

Provisional Standings – 2023 Dakar Rally (after 10 of 14 stages)

1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 35:16:06
2. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 35:47:35 +1:29
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 35:48:16 +2:10
4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 35:55:58 +9:52
5. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 36:01:04 +14:58
Other KTM
6. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 36:01:44 +15:38
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 36:25:55 +39:49

Source: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Solid day opening Dakar stage 10 for Luciano Benavides

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Winner on day nine, Luciano Benavides had the unenviable task of leading out into today’s 10th stage of the 2023 Dakar Rally. The Argentine racer did an impeccable job however, opening the stage from start to finish to ultimately post the 13th quickest time. Teammate Skyler Howes took a conservative approach to today’s special, minimising the chance of any navigational mistakes and ensuring an advantageous start position for Thursday’s first half of the marathon stage.

Continuing to deliver solid and calculated rides at this year’s Dakar, Luciano Benavides confidently took on the challenge of opening the first stage that entered the dunes of the Empty Quarter and excelled. Riding alone up front for the entire 114 kilometres, Benavides lost the minimum time to his rivals while also ensuring a strong start position for tomorrow. Completing the day in 13th, six minutes down on the eventual winner, Luciano retains his top-10 placing in the overall standings and is in the perfect position to attack tomorrow’s first leg of the marathon stage.

Also putting in a considered ride through the dunes today, Skyler Howes took some time to reacquaint himself with the Empty Quarter terrain and to ensure he made very little in the way of navigational errors. With Thursday’s stage 11 coming in at around twice the distance of today’s special, Skyler is fully aware of the importance of delivering a solid, mistake-free result on the way to the temporary bivouac of the marathon stage. Although Howes dropped down to second in the overall standings, he lies just one and a half minutes from the lead – time he hopes to make up tomorrow.

Luciano Benavides: “Today had a really long liaison in the morning – almost 500 kilometres ridden after a very early start. It was the first stage in the Empty Quarter and so it was full of dunes – very similar to the terrain seen in Abu Dhabi actually. I opened the whole stage and I think I did a good job. I picked up two minutes of bonus time, but of course you do lose a few minutes to the guys behind chasing the tracks. I pushed all day, trying to do my best, and I think I finished just inside the top 15, which gives me a good start position for tomorrow.”

Skyler Howes: “Yeah, we knew what we were getting into coming into the Empty Quarter with all the dunes. But today, with the special being so short, I wanted to make sure I was in a good position to push on tomorrow’s marathon stage. I took things a little easier today to get a feel for the dunes and just took things a little conservatively. I did have one awesome moment where I put on some style for the helicopter but messed up the landing. All was good though and now we have a much longer day of more dunes tomorrow – I’m looking forward to it.”

2023 Dakar Rally – Stage 10 Provisional Classification

1. Ross Branch (Hero) 1:44:00
2. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 1:44:21
3. Michael Docherty (Husqvarna) 1:44:30
4. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 1:45:00
5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 1:45:22
6. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 1:46:43

13. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:50:18
18. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 1:51:38

2023 Dakar – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 10]

1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 35:46:06
2. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 35:47:35
3. Toby Price (KTM) 35:48:16
4. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 35:55:58
5. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 36:01:04
6. Mason Klein (KTM) 36:01:44

8. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 36:07:50


Source Husqvarna Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing's Daniel Sanders completes another day.

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  • Calculated ride through stage 10 for Daniel Sanders
  • Super-short special offers no chance for Chucky to make up time
  • The Dakar Rally marathon stage begins tomorrow

That’s stage 10 at the Dakar done and dusted for Daniel Sanders. With times at the top incredibly close due to today’s special being the shortest of the entire event, Sanders posted the 12th fastest time, finishing just over six minutes down on the stage winner. Perhaps not a great result on paper, it’s the overall time that matters most, and today Daniel clawed back vital seconds from the provisional leader while securing a perfect starting position for tomorrow’s first leg of the marathon stage. The race to the finish is just getting started.

Daniel Sanders: “Yeah, today was pretty much full send in the dunes so that was fun, but with it being so short, something like 115 kilometers, today wasn’t the day to be making up too much time. It seems like this part of Saudi missed the rain we had during week one as the sand is dry and a lot softer, so it took me a little while to adjust to it. But all is good. I didn’t want to finish inside the top 10 today because of the marathon stage starting tomorrow so we’re a little bit back in the pack. That was the game plan though, so yeah, looking forward to seeing what we can do over the next couple of days.”

Knowing full well that today’s super-short special offered little to no chance of reeling in the leading riders in this year’s Dakar by a considerable amount, Sanders rode tactically. Able to stay on pace and make up a small amount of time, Chucky got just what he wanted after completing stage 10 – a very favorable start position for stage 11.

With the race now heading into the rolling sand dunes of the Empty Quarter, there’s far less reliance on navigation, with many more opportunities to ride wide open by simply following in the wheel tracks of the leading riders. And starting from 12th tomorrow, Sanders has high hopes of taking a big chunk of time out of those in front in the overall classification.

Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2023, stage 10
1. Ross Branch (Hero) 1:44:00
2. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 1:44:21
3. Michael Docherty (Husqvarna) 1:44:30
12. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:50:02

Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 10)
1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 35:46:06
2. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 35:47:35
3. Toby Price (KTM) 35:48:16
9. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 36:09:46


Source Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - A good feeling on arrival in Shaybah for Honda riders

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After 11 days (prologue and 10 stages), the Dakar Rally 2023 made a drastic change heading southeast. Monster Energy Honda Team riders José Ignacio Cornejo (CL), Adrien Van Beveren (FR) and Pablo Quintanilla (CL) had an early wake up call around 3:00 am. In less than one hour they were ready to start the 10th stage, leaving Haradh in the direction of Shaybah with a quite unusual liaison of 508 kilometers!
Leaving the rain and cold days behind, this special section was just an appetizer of 114 km of sand and started a few minutes before 10 in the morning. As the ASO organization explained, this is a deliberate approach into the limits of the Empty Quarter. This was certainly a good day for Honda, after a consistent performance from all riders. Van Beveren got the silver medal with second position on this short and technical stage, just 21 seconds after the leader. In the overall standings, the Frenchman kept his fourth place (9:52 minutes gap to the leader). Pablo Quintanilla was sixth and also kept his position in the overall standings: 5th place (14:58 minutes gap to the leader). José Ignacio Cornejo reached the bivouac in eighth position and managed to climb one stair in the overall standings (now he is 7th with a 20:42 gap to the leader).
Tomorrow it’s time for a key and much expected moment of the race: the marathon stage at the famous Empty Quarter. The counter will mark 4,000 kilometers of specials right after the start, taking the race into extreme endurance territory. Along the 273 km of the selective section (added by a liaison of 151 km) there will be sand dunes of every color. The importance of this challenge –  the marathon stage – is that the riders will be on their own in terms of assistance: reaching the bivouac at the end of the day there won’t be any mechanics or external help.
Ruben Faria - General Manager: “We have reached a decisive part of the rally and our riders felt quite well in the transition for the southeast landscapes. I know this was just a short introduction for the sandy days to come, but I am very happy with the performance of our riders. All of them - Adrien, Pablo and Nacho - are almost natural born riders of the sand. They love the sand and the dunes and all of them have a special connection with this environment. Tomorrow conditions will be even harder, with a longer stage and no assistance. I am quite confident in our riders and in our Honda's CRF 450 Rally, we are here to fight for the top standings until the last day”.
Adrien Van Beveren  42: “This was a good day for me, much better than yesterday for sure. I gave everything, trying to be fast riding on the dunes - a terrain that I love. I really push and I am happy with the outcome. I am ok physically, unfortunately it was only one hundred and fourteen kilometers but we have more chances in the coming days.”
Pablo Quintanilla  7: "This was another long, long day. The stage was short but the rhythm was very high. I am glad tomorrow I will have some riders opening in the front, this can be a changing moment for the race. It will be a tremendous effort for us and for the bikes, because we are already racing for 10 days and that is quite intense. I am in full shape and keen to keep fighting”.
José Ignacio Cornejo  11: “It was a good stage. It was a short stage but very physical. I was riding, pushing and trying to be safe at the same time. In this terrain we can not be overconfident because that’s when mistakes happen. I’m happy with my performance and have a good feeling, so I am ready to keep on fighting in the depths of the Empty Quarter”.
Source Monster Energy Honda Team
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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Mário Patrão doesn't give up fighting in the Original by Motul

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Mário Patrão continues in highlight in the 45th edition of the Dakar Rally. The pilot supported by CRÉDITO AGRÍCOLA was again second in the 113 km-long stage that today linked Haradh and Shaybah, the 10th of this edition.

The rider supported by LUSÍADAS SAÚDE remains in the third position in the overall class classification - in which pilots have the arduous task of performing alone the assistance to their machines - which has been held for six consecutive stages, continuing the fight for second place.

Today's journey, although short, was no less demanding for the entire delegation. The long connection of over 509 km to the bivouac took up most of the day. For Mário Patrão, World Cross Country Rallies Veterans Champion, supported by BAHCO: "Today the day went normally. There was only a small mechanical problem that I think still comes from the problems caused by using gasoline adulterated with water, but I think everything is already solved for tomorrow. I have rested very little at the expense of the extra time that the mechanics have forced me to do. The stage was very long, there were many kilometers on the bike, the connection was huge, and it's impossible not to feel tired, but we are ready for the day ahead", reveals the pilot.

Tomorrow, January 12th, Mário Patrão, who also counts with the support of GARCIA & GOUVEIA - SERRALHARIA CIVIL, as well as all the competitors will face the first part of the marathon stage, a journey that presupposes that, upon arrival at the bivouac, the pilots won't be able to count on their assistance team. For the Seia rider who already has the arduous task of performing daily assistance to his own motorcycle, for him, every day has the same demand of a marathon stage. The special that will link Shaybah to the Empty Quarter will have a total of 426.27 km, 273 km of which will be contour time.


Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version available on www.todoterreno.pt
Source Mario Patrão official press release

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Santolino secures his position

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At the end of the 10th stage, Lorenzo Santolino is in 11th position in the general classification, 56mn 55s from the leader and is still in the fight to enter the top 10.

He struggled today in the tenth stage of the Dakar, the first part of the stage was entirely in the dunes.

"Another special stage, much shorter, but no less intense. It was 100% dunes, quite physical. From the start, two or three kilometers from the start I had a small fall. I got stuck in a descent, I was not injured. However It allowed me to wake up and regain the feeling of the terrain.  The conditions have changed a lot. Here the sand is completely dry and soft, unlike the previous days when it was very wet. Visibility was poor on this very white sand. I rode carefully until kilometer 80 where I rode in the company of Van Beveren for a few minutes. The pace was very high and I lost contact and ended up finishing alone. Overall it's good, we continue on a good pace and that's what counts ".

Tomorrow, January 12, the first part of the marathon stage starts, where the competitors will have no assistance. There will be 274 kilometers of special and 153 kilometers of liaison, it will be 100% sand terrain with dunes. The riders will have to manage the maintenance of their machines by themselves because outside assistance will not be authorized. The next day, the end of the stage will consist of a 185-kilometre special route with more dunes.

Cumulative ranking:
Lorenzo Santolino: P11, +56mn 55s


Source: Sherco Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Laia Sanz overcomes an adverse tenth stage

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  • The KH-7 rider completed the short but complicated special stage, just before the marathon, where assistance is not allowed.
  • The Barcelona-born rider and her co-driver Maurizio Gerini suffered a couple of snags in the dunes and a wheel slipped, which slowed them down.
  • "There were photographers on top of the dune and I had to change the line a bit. I was more aware of them, so as not to run over them, than of myself, and I accidentally got into a pot where we got stuck."
  • "We lost a lot of time. It was a pity, because the car went very well and it was a clean stage in terms of mechanics. It's the first time I got stuck in the dunes on these two Dakars."

The Dakar Rally is already in unknown territory. The toughest rally in the world entered the inhospitable Saudi territory of the Empty Quarter on Wednesday, where the competitors had 114 kilometers of sand and, above all, dunes on the menu for the tenth stage. Laia Sanz has overcome the challenge and is already at the gates of another marathon with her ASTARA 01 ready for the next two days, in which she will not be able to count on the technical assistance of the mechanics.

It was not an easy day for the cars, which saw how the lighter buggies - smaller and lighter - moved more easily than them in the dunes of the Rub al-Jali desert. This explains the surprising classification of the stage, with dozens of T3 and T4 ahead of many of the cars still in the race.

For Laia Sanz, it wasn't an easy special either, and in the end she crossed the finish line in 96th place, 46'48" behind the leader. The KH-7 rider got stuck in a dune near kilometer 60, which took her about 25 minutes to get out of.

This is how the Barcelona-born rider summed it up at the Shaybah bivouac: "I was going pretty well, without taking any risks. We knew it was going to be a tricky stage, very short and complicated. On one climb, there were photographers on top of the dune, and I had to change the line a bit. I was more aware of them, so as not to run over them, than of myself, and I accidentally got into a pot where we got stuck".

Then, Sanz and his co-driver Maurizio Gerini lost a wheel and, finally, just one kilometer from the finish line, another snag, less serious than the previous one, slowed down his time again. "Overall, we lost a lot of time. It was a pity, because the car went very well and it was a clean stage in terms of mechanics. It's the first time I got stuck in the dunes on these two Dakars on four wheels, but these things happen," she resigned himself.

"When we're going well, we have rhythm, but things just don't work out. On this one, because it was such a short stage, we went way backwards. We couldn't recover anything after the incidents," she adds.

Tomorrow will be another day... and another challenge to overcome, as the rally will enter another marathon stage in which assistance will be forbidden and the drivers will have to be self-sufficient. The day will feature 426 kilometers, of which 275 will be timed.

"After everything that has happened, tomorrow we have to take it in survival mode, to avoid trouble and arrive with the car in one piece for the day after tomorrow. If you break anything silly on a marathon stage it's a big problem," she concludes.


Automatic translation from the original Spanish version available on www.todoterreno.pt
Source Laia Sanz / KH-7

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Loeb & Bahrain Raid Xtreme take fouthr Dakar stage win

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A hat trick of Dakar stage victories was completed by Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin with their Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter today following the first of the stages that are dominated by big dunes in the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia. Starting first on the road the pair scorched ahead with their Prodrive Hunter, taking fastest time at every section on the stage to make it four wins for Loeb so far this year. With Guerlain Chicherit’s GCKMotorsport car taking a stage win earlier in the rally, it now means the Hunter has taken 50% of the stage victories in this 2023 Dakar Rally.
Loeb and Lurquin are currently leading the 2023 World Rally Raid Championship at this point in the rally due to their consistently strong stage finish positions but as is said in the Dakar bivouac daily, ‘There’s a long way to go.’
With the route passing within reach of Bahrain, it was great to see many Bahraini flags and supporters at the stage start, proving this is a growing international sport with a huge following.
Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq started the stage strongly, running well inside the top 10 but finished in 14th position after the driver  felt a little ill over the test and therefore decided to take it steady over the remaining kilometres before the marathon stage tomorrow and Friday. 
Second yesterday into Haradh, Vaidotas Zala/Paulo Fiuza also had a great start to the stage but 44 kilometres in broke the suspension so is waiting for the service truck to arrive and fix it in order to exit the stage
The bivouac tonight is set in amongst huge dunes in the south eastern part of Saudi Arabia with limited communication to the outside world, almost recreating the atmosphere and spirit of African Dakars before the age of the internet and cell phones.
Tomorrow sees over double the mileage of today before the crews rest 425 kilometres away from the Bahrain Raid Xtreme service team so any repairs on the car will have to be done by the drivers before they return to Shaybah 48 hours from now. 
Sebastien Loeb: “That was a very good day to complete three wins together over the last three stages of the rally. The car was good right from the start through big dunes and some amazing scenery but we had no time to look. We almost did not expect to win the stage starting first on the road but we’ll take it anyway so maybe being first on the road is ok for us so we will see tomorrow. What we also did today was to take five minutes to second overall ahead of us so, yeah a very good day.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal: “Another day and we’ve taken another win! It’s great to see the pace of the car and take the World Rally Raid Championship points for Seb and then see where we are towards the end of this mammoth rally. We’ve got 16 minutes to catch second place which is a target for Seb but after that we can only keep pushing but today has been a very good day at BRX.”
Stage 8. Al Duwadimi to Riyadh. 346 kms
1st. -S. Loeb / F. Lurquin   –   Prodrive Hunter 
14th. - G. Chicherit / A. Winocq   –   Prodrive Hunter
124th. V. Zala / P. Fiuza   –   Prodrive Hunter          
Source Prodrive / Bahrain Raid Xtreme           
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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Good day for the Repsol Rally Team, which is the first Spanish team in the Dakar.

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  • Isidre Esteve and Txema Villalobos have managed to get through a tenth stage full of dunes more suitable for light buggies.
  • Without making a single mistake, the Catalan duo ended the day in 22nd place in the overall car standings and 20th in the T1 class.
  • "In today's stage it was impossible to compete with the lightness of the buggies, but we ended up happy because we didn't make a single mistake and the car continues to perform perfectly."

Isidre Esteve and Txema Villalobos have maintained in the tenth stage of the Dakar Rally the good pace they showed the day before. The Spanish pair closed without any setback the first special stage that has entered the Rub al-Jali desert - known as Empty Quarter - with only 114 kilometers timed, entirely in dunes, an unusually short distance inversely proportional to the difficulty of the day.

Wednesday's terrain was particularly suitable for the side-by-side buggies (T3 and T4), which are much smaller and lighter than the big T1 cars, such as the Toyota Hilux driven by Esteve and Villalobos, something that was reflected in the standings. Among the top 20 of the day, half of them were side-by-sides. Thus, the Repsol Toyota Rally Team drivers were 22nd fastest among the T1s, but this time, in the absolute car classification -which mixes all the categories-, they were 54th, despite having crossed the finish line only 20 minutes and 55 seconds after the first one.

Today's results leave the Catalan duo as they were in the general classification: 22nd overall and 20th in T1, but with the novelty of now being the first Spanish crew in the table.

Sand and dunes have taken over the Dakar route, and this terrain requires equal doses of experience and expertise, which affects both the riding and the technical work prior to each special stage, as Isidre Esteve explains: "We got the tire pressure right and this was essential to be able to ride at a good pace from the first kilometer. In a 100% dune stage like today's, it was impossible to compete against the lightness of the buggies, which today were at ease, but we are very happy because we have not suffered a single snag all day and the car continues to perform perfectly".

The tenth stage has been round for the team supported by Repsol, MGS Seguros, KH-7 and Toyota Spain, which has calmly saved a multitude of small dangers, as the co-driver Txema Villalobos relates: "It is not that there were many sections of great difficulty, but small moments quite complex. For example, the cut dunes at the start, or the level 3 dunes that we encountered in the final part, including a particularly difficult climb. All in all, the car has demonstrated in all these points all its virtues. Apart from these aspects, we got around the navigation traps well and managed to drive at the pace we wanted".

The competition will face a real marathon stage tomorrow and the day after, which will force Esteve and Villalobos to say goodbye to the Repsol Toyota Rally Team mechanics until the end of Friday's special stage. The first of the two special stages without intermediate assistance, scheduled for tomorrow, will link Shaybah and Ardah, with 275 km of timed stages, mostly between dunes.


Automatic translation from the original Spanish version available on www.todoterreno.pt
Source Repsol Rally Team

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Dakar 2023: Stage 10 - Tim and Tom thrown to the lions

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“So, today the Dakar 2023 really started. We have been thrown to the lions.” The tenth stage of the rally was an ultra-short of 114 kilometres, but thanks to the fact that the stage consisted of 90 percent dunes, it counted twice, according to Tim and Tom Coronel. The brothers were not dissatisfied with the 37th time.

The landscape, with nothing but dunes, was beautiful, Tim thought. “Of course it was also tough. Once we got stuck and had to do some digging. That took some time.” The dunes were difficult, but a “power thing” made the stage to Shaybah extra difficult for Tim and Tim. The fan of the radiator was broken, which caused a constant malfunction and the engine automatically switched back in power. In dunes of the third category, this is not convenient, because power is then important to be able to get to the top.

It also meant double work for Tom. Not only did he have to keep an eye on the road book and the course, the engine also needed his attention. “I had to switch off the alarm a hundred times or so. I had to be everywhere at once today. It was really exciting, because you don’t know if you can climb a dune on less power.”

Surprisingly, it went well every time. Even on the very last dune before the finish. “That was a very steep one, and we only just made it,” says Tom. “We chose a new track, slightly to the left, to have a little more grip. On its last breath, the car nodded over the top. Because we were so far to the side, we had to go back a bit, because we had passed the finish flag on the wrong side.”

The mechanics are taking extra care of the Century tonight. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, the marathon stage is scheduled, during which the participants spend the night in a separate bivouac, without assistance. So if something breaks, Tim and Tom have to fix it themselves.


Source Coronel Dakar Team

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