HA’IL, Saudi Arabia – Carlos Sainz became the first repeat stage winner of the this year’s Dakar Rally on Thursday.
Sainz piloted his X-raid Mini to a nearly three minute victory in the stage over rival Nasser Al-Attiyah despite a tire puncture. Sainz took the lead during the 353 kilometer stage just past the 250 kilometer mark and led the remainder of the way.
The stage victory allowed Sainz to grow his overall lead in the race from a little more than three minutes to nearly six minutes over Al-Attiyah.
Toby Price joined Sainz as a double stage winner, becoming the first repeat winner of the year in the bike class. Price took the lead early in the stage and remained at the front through each of the four checkpoints, beating Pablo Quintanilla by a bit more than one minute.
American Ricky Brabec continues to lead the bike division with a nine minute and six second lead over Price.
Sam Sunderland, the 2017 bike champion of the Dakar Rally, crashed out early in the stage and was forced to retire from the race with injuries to his back and left shoulder.
In the truck class, Dmitry Sotnikov earned his first stage win of the year over Kamaz teammates Anton Shibalov and Andrey Karginov. Karginov continues to lead the division by nearly 15 minutes.
Cyril Despres took his first stage win as part of the Red Bull Off-Road team, winning the SxS class. Despres failed to finish Wednesday’s stage, but he utilized the new Dakar Experience rule that allows competitors to rejoin the event without being included in the overall standings.
Despres beat Aron Domzala to win the stage by 41 seconds. Sergey Karyakin moved into the class lead by one minute and 10 seconds over Casey Currie.