DAKAR RALLY

Major moves are made on Stage 10 of the 2017 Dakar Rally

Eduard Nikolaev was one of the big winners on Stage 10 © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

It was back to business with a bang today as the 2017 Dakar Rally recommenced on the route between Chilecito and San Juan in Argentina. With the finish line now within touching distance there was no let up in pace at the front of the race during the 449km timed special stage run amid temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius.

Looking to recapture the truck race title he won in 2013 is Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) of Team Kamaz Master. The Russian trucker did his chances of success the power of good on Stage 10 as he set the day’s fastest time. The result sees Nikolaev leapfrog his Kamaz team-mate Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) who finished second on today’s stage and now holds the runners-up spot in the general classification. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) came home third on the stage to give Kamaz a richly deserved 1-2-3 result.

1-2-3 results have been common place for Team Peugeot Total during this edition of motorsport’s toughest test of endurance. Peugeot’s latest clean sweep saw Sébastien Loeb (FRA) take the stage’s scratch time with team-mates Cyril Despres (FRA) and Stéphane Perterhansel (FRA) following him home.

With two stages remaining Loeb leads the car race although this result is subject to change this evening once Peterhansel is given back the time he spent assisting injured Slovenian biker Simon Marčič on Stage Ten. The closest challenger to third place Despres is Nani Roma (ESP) who lies nearly an hour behind the former biker in fourth overall.

Over on the bikes there was another assured performance by Sam Sunderland (GBR) who continues to break new ground while leading the race. Red Bull KTM Factory Team’s British biker got his tactics spot on to maintain a lead of 30 minutes at the head of the race. Sunderland’s KTM team-mate Matthias Walkner (AUT) can also be pleased with his day’s work as he climbed onto the overall podium to hold second place overnight.

In the quad race Ignacio Casale (CHL) continues to take the fight to category leader Sergey Karyakin (RUS). It was the Russian setting the pace today, but Casale hung on to eventually concede a little more than 10 minutes to his rival. There’s now 21m05s separating runner-up Casale and race leader Karyakin.

Tomorrow brings with it the penultimate stage as the Dakar departs San Juan for Rio Cuarto. With close to 300km to be raced over a mixture of dunes and fast WRC-style tracks. Racers will be faced with the tactical decision of holding the positions they’ve all worked so hard for or risking it all for a leap up the rankings.