The first half of the 2021 Dakar Rally wrapped up today with more than 100 kilometers cut from the competition route in today’s trek from Al Qaisumah to Ha’il, throwing a wrench in the works for all competitors just a day after numerous racers found themselves struggling with navigation. Dakar veterans Joan Barreda Bort and Carlos Sainz made the most of it, scoring stage wins in the motorcycle and car classes to go into Saturday’s rest day on a high note.
Barreda took a 13-second victory over Botswana’s Ross Branch in the final stage of the first half, for his 27th career stage win and third of the event. The win allowed Barreda to claw back to seventh in the overall standings, where he sits 6:25 behind new overall leader Toby Price, who finished seventh today. Kevin Benavides, who took the stage win and class lead yesterday despite breaking his nose on the stage, remains second overall after a 15th place stage run. Defending motorcycle winner Ricky Brabec picked off another spot in the standings with a fourth place stage result today, and now sits 13th going into the break.
Sainz, meanwhile, has fought navigation issues for much of the event that have put him upwards of 40 minutes off of the overall lead held by his Mini JCW X-Raid teammate Stephane Peterhansel. Today represented his first win since the first stage of the rally, allowing him to cut more than seven minutes off of Peterhansel’s lead as the Frenchman finished fourth on the day. Yazeed Al Rahji and Nasser Al-Attiyah completed the podium, with Al-Attiyah now under six minutes adrift of Peterhansel for the overall lead. Sebastien Loeb’s nightmare over the past few days continued with a broken suspension arm at the 97-kilometer mark.
Seth Quintero’s first Dakar has seen him take multiple stage wins in the T3 light prototypes, but Stage 6 represented the first time that he topped all lightweight vehicles on stage as he beat the surging Khalifa Al-Attiyah overall by 23 seconds. Quintero’s T3 lead is now up to nearly two hours over teammate Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, while Al-Attiyah now ranks ninth in the T4 standings. Mechanical troubles for 2019 SSV winner Chaleco Lopez dropped him to third overall, over 35 minutes behind new leader Aron Domzala, while American Austin Jones is back to within 40 seconds of overall top honors with another third place run today.
Today’s quad results looked more like earlier stages of the event, with Alexandre Giroud, Giovanni Enrico, and Nicolas Cavigliasso separated by just 2:01, but struggles for many of the front-runners earlier in the week still means Cavigliasso leads by more than 33 minutes. Meanwhile, Dmitry Sotnikov’s truck lead is now over 37 minutes after finishing second to Airat Mardeev on stage, as Mardeev climbed to third overall. Ondrej Klymciw scored the Classic stage upset by three points on Marc Douton, but Douton still boasts a 776-point advantage in the regularity rally.
Saturday represents the rest day for Dakar competitors, who will remain stationed in Ha’il before preparing for Sunday’s trek of more than 700 kilometers to Sakaka. Coverage of the Dakar Rally airs tonight on NBCSN starting at 6PM ET, with today’s footage airing at the bottom of the hour.
2021 Dakar Rally Stage 6 Winners
- Motorcycle: Joan Barreda Bort, 3:45:27
- Quad: Alexandre Giroud, 4:50:24
- Car: Carlos Sainz, 3:38:27
- Lightweight Prototype: Seth Quintero, 4:20:23
- SSV: Khalifa Al-Attiyah, 4:20:46
- Truck: Airat Mardeev, 4:08:52
- Classic: Ondrej Klymciw, 91 points
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Rankings
|1st||T. Price||N. Cavigliasso||S. Peterhansel||A. Domzala||D. Sotnikov|
|2nd||K. Benavides||M. Andujar||N. Al-Attiyah||A. Jones||A. Shibalov|
|3rd||J. I. Cornejo Florimo||A. Giroud||C. Sainz||S. Quintero||A. Mardeev|
|4th||R. Branch||G. Enrico||J. Przygonski||F. Lopez Contardo||M. Macik|
|5th||X. de Soultrait||P. Copetti||N. Roma||S. Kariakin||A. Loprais|