Here it is – the run to the finish!
After just on 2 weeks the riders are heading back to where it all started in Jeddah on the 2nd January, and to the glory that goes with completing a Dakar Rally.
In an interview earlier this week, Ricky Brabec from the Monster Energy Honda team said that “just finishing the Dakar is a win in his mind”.
And that’s because it’s so damn gruelling – the toughest motorsport event in the world!
For the final run to the finish there’s a 105km liaison to the start of a 202km special. That’s followed by a final 142km liaison into the Jeddah bivouac.
It may not be the easiest of stages, but it will be the sweetest.
There’s sand to deal with, chains of dunes, dirt and gravel tracks.
Kevin Benavides (#47 Monster Energy Honda) and Sam Sunderland (#5 Red Bull KTM) are expected to battle it out for the win and honour for their respective brands.
Ricky Brabec has an outside chance but if he maintains his position today he’ll at least get a podium.
Daniel Sanders is the dark horse. Starting with a deficit of 33 minutes on the leader, he’s not likely to take an overall win but based on his performance yesterday could take today’s stage. And if something goes wrong up front he’ll be there to grab a podium in his first Dakar.
Fellow Aussie Andrew Houlihan, who has been riding with a broken scaphoid in his right wrist since day 3, starts today in 51st place overall in his first Dakar. Just to finish today is a massive triumph for the Albury based rider.
His teammate at the Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure team, Pablo Guillen, starts 49th and he’s also looking forward to his first finish.
And the other Australian left in the rally, Michael Burgess, looks certain to secure a top 30 place today. He’s also a rookie.
The lead riders will leave the bivouac early – 5.25am – and begin the special at 7.30am Saudi time.
Andrew Houlihan will begin the special at 8:42am and Pablo a minute later.
An early start and an early finish – and enough time to celebrate their triumphs tonight.
You can follow the live timing here.