Carlos Sainz’s Luck and Loeb’s Mistake

Neither a few punctures, nor difficult navigation, nor rocks on the road, nor the presence of such a rally giant as Sebastien Loeb can help Carlos Sainz at the moment, who is one day closer to winning his fourth (and last?) Touareg trophy. . The Madrid man left the eighth stage of the world’s toughest race with a greater lead than at the start, despite the fact that Loeb, with the Prodrive Hunter, seemed on paper to have a definite advantage in the 458 kilometers of the special stage this Monday.

Carlos Sainz took third place at the end of the stage between Al Duwadimi and Hail, which was taken by his teammate Matthias Ekstrom ahead of Frenchman Guerlain Chichery in the Overdrive team’s Hilux, after a day in which he was stopped minutes later with a puncture in the first third of the day. The challenging course followed by the Dakar caravan at the beginning and end of the stage, and the fast paved section in the middle zone, forced them to adopt two parallel strategies within just a few kilometers, in which Sainz and Cruz had the upper hand. maximum possible return.

And the work of the Matador co-pilot that day must be commended, given what happened to Loeb. The nine-time world rally champion lost his way, and with it the profit he might have made earlier in the day, when Sainz had to stop to repair a wheel. The Frenchman and his navigator Fabian Lurquin were circling around 390 kilometers when they failed to cross the checkpoint. Loeb’s total time loss was 5:47, which works to Sainz’s advantage, who thus gets a good amount of extra oxygen for the rest of the week.

The legendary Spanish rider will enter the ninth stage of the raid with a 24:47 lead over Loeb, which is by no means a decisive advantage, but is an important cushion allowing him to bide his time and, to a certain extent, think about mothballing here on Friday.

Argentine motorcycle party

Kevin Benavidez and his brother Luciano won the motorcycle stage on a day that saw them shake off the previous day’s disappointment when Nacho Cornejo disrupted a great party for the Argentine fans. The eldest of the Rosario brothers won a difficult and very fast day, as evidenced by the fact that the top ten reached the finish line less than five and a half minutes apart.

The Honda driver’s victory is part of a tense battle for the lead. And Ricky Brabec opened the lead to Ross Branch, from whom he was separated by just one second at the beginning of the day. There are now 42. The extreme parity in the two-wheeler category, which on the other hand is quite common, has been taken to its most exaggerated point in this 2024 edition, in which strategies will begin to take on added importance with four days left.

Brabec himself pointed this out upon his arrival at the Hail bivouac, from where the ninth stage of the raid will depart this Tuesday. “The day was difficult because there were few games. Let’s see what happens. We knew it would be difficult, so some chose to slow down. There are still four days left and let’s hope everything goes well. We’ll go out, have a good time and stay focused. Given the new Dakar, the last day will be decisive,” the American warned.

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