Stage 9: Wadi Ad Dawasir to Wadi Ad Dawasir
Today’s stage was much shorter – a 490 km loop out and back to the bivouac in Wadi Ad Dawasir. The special stage was just 287 km, with about half of it sand, a third if it soil and the rest some small rock and dune sections.
A shorter day today meant a later start for Pablo Guillen (#35 – KTM) and Vasileios Boudros (#147 – Husqvarna), they left just after 7am.
And as the teams head south the temperature is warming up and the morning stages aren’t so cold as well!
Both Pablo and Vasileios said today’s stage was exceptionally fast – maybe too fast with a couple of very bad accidents – and navigation was quite easy with many tracks to follow.
Andrew Houlihan (#62 – KTM) said “It was great to see them both come back early and both with smiles on their faces. They had a great day, missing 1 waypoint each like many of the other riders.”
Pablo came in 58th and Vasileios 46th in Rally 2 today, so a really good day for both of them.
The stage win once again went to Nacho Cornejo (#11 – Honda) ahead of Kevin Benavides (#1 – KTM) and Ricky Brabec (#2 – Honda).
At the head of the field the top 4 riders are now separated by under 5 minutes. Matthias Walkner (#52 – KTM) holds the overall lead going into Stage 10 from Sam Sunderland (#3 – GasGas). Adrien Van Beveren (#42 – Yamaha) is third and Pablo Quintanilla (#7 – Honda) fourth.
With 3 stages to go there are 4 brands in strong contention, but this is the Dakar and anything can happen!
Toby Price (#18 – KTM) had dropped out of the top 10 but a penalty for Stefan Svitko (#142 – KTM) brought him back up to 9th.
Andrew Houlihan has had some time today to catch up with some of the things going on in the bivouac.
“This morning after the bikes left Katie and I watched the trucks depart the bivouac. It still amazes me how they get these massive machines through the dunes and narrow rocky passes.”
“Luckily, I have only had a couple of trucks go through the dunes with me, but the damage they do is crazy. They destroy everything and make the existing tracks unrideable, plus they don’t stop for anything. So if you hear the quick BEEP BEEP BEEP on your sentinel buzzer you get out of the road quickly.”
He also caught up with South African rider Ross Branch.
“I caught up with Yamaha rider Ross Branch this morning who is also out of the race injured. Ross had a huge crash a couple of days ago and then rejoined the race to attempt to continue but was in too much pain. After seeing the damage he has done to himself I would say he is almost as stupid as me for trying to continue.”
“I first met Ross in Merzouga in Morocco 3 years ago and he would have to be the nicest guy in the rally. Always makes time to come and say hi to us and always supportive of Pablo and I.”
And then there was time for some relaxation …
“Whilst we were waiting in the bivouac today we had a bit of spare time so Antonio, Katie and I relaxed and watched some Netflix and rested our broken ribs together.”
Stage 10 is a 384 km liaison and a 375 km special that takes the riders to Bisha. And it’s now a crucial time to be extra careful in the stages as we get closer to the finish in Jeddah.