The best advice that any Dakar Rally veteran could give a rookie is to always expect the unexpected. In the future, they’ll point to 2023 as a great example of that, with uncharacteristic amounts of rain having delayed the completion of the Al Duwadimi bivouac—flipping the routes of Stages 7 and 8 and turning them into an unexpected marathon stage.
That alteration cancelled the motorcycle and quad programs for the day, turning the 333 kilometers of special stage into transit only and ensuring that American Skyler Howes and Frenchman Alexandre Giroud would remain atop their respective classes for another day. The overall leads wouldn’t change in the car or T3 Lightweight Prototype classes, either, with Nasser Al-Attiyah and Guillaume De Mevius only giving up small amounts of time to their respective pursuants.
Instead, it was Yazeed Al Rajhi and Mitch Guthrie Jr. scoring redemptive wins in those classes. Al Rajhi had been running as high as second to Al-Attiyah in the overall rankings before mechanical troubles yesterday cost him more than five hours, but the stage win marked his first in two years. Guthrie had been pacing the T3 class before heartbreak on Stage 5, but scored his class-leading third stage win of the rally today by 1:45 over defending winner Chaleco Lopez.
The SSV class has a new name up front, as Rokas Baciuska’s stage win combined with bad luck for incoming leader Rodrigo Luppi to flip the rankings on their head. Luppi fell from first to sixth after losing close to an hour on stage today, while Baciuska’s advantage is now 5:42 on Marek Goczal. Ales Loprais also put a little bit of padding on his slim lead in the truck class over Martin Van Den Brink, finishing second to Van Den Brink’s third as Janus Van Kasteren won the stage.
2023 Dakar Rally Stage 7 winners were as follows:
- Bikes: N/A
- Quads: N/A
- Cars: Yazeed Al Rajhi, 3:06:23
- Lightweight Prototype: Mitch Guthrie Jr., 3:39:37
- SSV: Rokas Baciuska, 3:45:34
- Truck: Janus Van Kasteren, 3:35:10
2023 Dakar Rally class leaders are as follows:
- Bikes: Skyler Howes, 26:31:52
- Quads: Alexandre Giroud, 32:58:54
- Cars: Nasser Al’Attiyah, 27:26:23
- Lightweight Prototype: Guillaume De Mevius, 31:43:12
- SSV: Rokas Baciuska, 33:08:46
- Truck: Ales Loprais, 32:22:56
Coverage of today’s Dakar Rally action will debut on Peacock at 6:30PM ET. Tomorrow’s Stage 8 to Riyadh features the longest special stage of the rally at 473 kilometers, an even more difficult challenge after today’s marathon mode sees competitors’ vehicles locked in a secure area for most of tonight.