An exciting ninth stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally saw more happy returns for American racers, as the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team continued to prove its strength in the SSV class with Dakar Experience competitor Blade Hildebrand’s second stage victory of the rally. Hildebrand beat Casey Currie, who continues to lead the overall standings, by three and a half minutes. Currie, meanwhile, now leads defending winner Chaleco Lopez by 23 minutes and 37 seconds.
Tuesday’s stage saw competitors continue the quest to Qiddiya, leaving behind Monday’s Wadi Al Dawasir loop stage and heading to Haradh. With a near-even split of 410 kilometers of special stage and 476 kilometers of transit, the terrain saw racers face a challenging mix of sand, soil, and stone.
Tuesday saw the car class tighten up dramatically, with event leader Carlos Sainz’s lead over defending winner Nasser Al-Attiyah down to just 24 seconds with three stages left. Legendary driver Stephane Peterhansel score the stage win by just 15 seconds over Al-Attiyah, with Sainz a further six minutes adrift in fifth on the day. Peterhansel remains third in the class, with all three separated by just six minutes and 38 seconds.
Motorcycles and quads returned to action on Tuesday after skipping Monday’s loop stage to mourn the passing of Paulo Gonçalves. Pablo Quintanilla earned the stage win by just under two minutes on defending champion Toby Price, but American Ricky Brabec continues to lead the rally by a sizable margin. Brabec, who has led the motorcycle class since Stage 3, finished fourth on Tuesday, and hasn’t finished outside of the top five since Stage 2, where he placed 12th.
Ignacio Casale scored a narrow victory of three seconds over Giovanni Enrico on the quads, one of the closest stage wins in any class during the entire rally. After his fourth stage win of 2020, Casale’s lead is now up to 44 minutes and 57 seconds over Simon Vitse. Andrey Karginov’s lead in the truck class is similarly large at 38 minutes and 35 seconds, after the Russian scored his fifth stage victory of the event and fourth in a row on Tuesday.
Only three days of action remain in the 2020 Dakar Rally, beginning with the start of another marathon stage on Wednesday as competitors prepare to head from Haradh to Shubaytah and back with limited assistance over the next two days. Coverage of Stage 9 will air on the NBC Sports Network on Tuesday at 5:30PM ET/2:30PM PT, and again on Wednesday at 6PM ET/3PM PT as part of back-to-back episodes of the event.