Through two stages of the 2020 Dakar Rally, a pair of familiar faces now lead the premier motorcycle and car classes. 2017 motorcycle winner Sam Sunderland took over the top spot from Red Bull KTM teammate Toby Price with a second place finish in today’s trek from Al Wajh to Neom, while Orlando Terranova did the same for the X-Raid Mini JCW Team with a runner-up finish of his own on today’s 393 kilometer stage.
2009 car winner Giniel de Villiers gave Toyota its first stage win of the event, and continued his streak of three consecutive years with a stage victory, as he looks to finish his mind-blowing 17th Dakar in a row. He beat Terranova to the finish by just under four minutes, with longtime WRC veteran Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi completing today’s podium. The bike victory went to Botswana’s Ross Branch, who beat Sunderland to the finish by a minute and 24 seconds, with Pablo Quintanilla third in today’s classification.
For the second day in a row, Ignacio Casale and Rafal Sonik went 1-2 on the quads, while Belarus’ Siarhei Viazovich scored a truck victory for MAZ to take over the overall event lead. Meanwhile, defending SSV winner Chaleco Lopez scored his first stage victory of the year to do the same in the premier category for UTVs.
American racers had another set of strong performances on Monday, with both AJ Jones and Casey Currie cracking the top five on the day, and Mitch Guthrie Jr. improving on Sunday’s 10th place stage finish with a seventh place result in the second stage. Those results have all three drivers in the top 10 overall, with Currie’s time of 8:30:52 through two stages putting him just under 10 minutes behind Lopez for the class lead. Jones sits fifth overall, just short of 21 minutes behind the leader, while Guthrie’s seven penalty minutes accrued on Monday still aren’t enough to slot him lower than seventh in the standings.
In the ultra-competitive motorcycle class, Ricky Brabec remains fifth overall, four minutes and 11 seconds behind Sunderland in the lead, despite an 11th place finish in today’s stage. He came home one spot behind fellow American Andrew Short in the daily rankings, as the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider’s 10th place stage finish on Monday matches his current spot in the overall standings.
The bad news of the day is for Fernando Alonso, the 3 time F1 World Champion had his Masterclass of Dakar hitting an unexpected root (the fact that he was in the third positionat the time of the crash suggest that he was faster than he probably should) breaking a wishbone from the front suspension that took over 2 hours and 30 minutes to fix loosing the low chances he had of winning the rally. 2 hours is a lot to recover to even a F1 World Champion, hopefully he doesn’t get the feared “Snoball effect” that makes one problem become many more during the entire race.
Recaps from the first two stages of the Dakar Rally will air back-to-back today on the NBC Sports Network at 5PM ET/2PM PT and 5:30PM ET/2:30PM PT. Tomorrow’s stage will see racers complete a more than 500-kilometer loop from Neom and back, which will see them come close to the edge of the border with Jordan and reach their highest altitude of the event at 1,400 kilometers.