The 2021 Dakar Rally served up dunes for the first time and the change of terrain had a massive impact on the leaderboards. Stage Two ran from Bisha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir and featured 457 kilometres against the clock. With a host of navigation challenges as well as soft sand dunes – this was a classic Dakar stage.
During the stage a three-way tussle emerged at the front of the car race that looks set to dominate the coming days at the Dakar. A stage win today for Nasser Al-Attiyah has lifted him to third overall, behind race leader Stéphane Peterhansel and second placed Carlos Sainz.
« Today we went flat out from start to finish and everything worked really well for us. » – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Peterhansel now leads the general classification with a gap of 6m37s over fellow MINI JCW Buggy driver Sainz. Peterhansel, Sainz and Al-Attiyah have 13 Dakar car race wins between them and that number looks set to increase this year.
« The dunes came near the start when we were carrying lots of fuel. The priority was not to get stuck. » – Stéphane Peterhansel
Kuba Przygoński and Sébastien Loeb have established themselves in the Top 10 after two stages while Giniel De Villiers and Cyril Despres remain in the hunt.
It was a tough day at the Dakar for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing as they slipped off the top of the general classification. Two-time Dakar winner Toby Price opened the stage and immediately faced navigation challenges. The Australian also suffered a fuel tank issue which slowed him down.
« I had to conserve fuel because I only had my front tanks. It was tough but it’s something we can sort out tonight in the bivouac. » – Toby Price
Price’s team-mate Sam Sunderland also conceded over 20 minutes to new race leader Joan Barreda. The news was worse for the third Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider as Matthias Walkner endured technical issues and lost over two hours on first place.
« It seems that whoever is opening each stage is losing a lot of time because of the nature of the terrain. It’s not easy to have a mistake free run. » – Sam Sunderland
Laia Sanz has been getting into her rhythm over the past two days at the Dakar. The top placed female biker at the previous 10 editions of the Dakar is out to keep her impressive record intact.
« It was a really fast stage and I’m happy with the rhythm I’m starting to find. Hopefully I can improve day by day. » – Laia Sanz
Also still on course to match their personal goals at the 2021 Dakar are Daniel Sanders, Stefan Svitko, Camille Chapelière, CS Santosh and Mohammed Jaffar.
« This is already the longest desert race I have done in my life and so far we’ve only had two stages! There’s still such a long way to go. » – Mohammed Jaffar
The lead changed hands once again in the Lightweight Vehicles category with Chaleco López now holding top spot. Yesterday’s stage winner Cristina Gutiérrez sits in fourth overall, less than three minutes behind López.
« The sand was nice and it was a great Dakar stage. » – Chaleco López
Gutiérrez’s fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team drivers Seth Quintero and Mitch Guthrie Jr. also completed the 457km timed special stage, as did Mattias Ekström.
« My main goal today was to try and stay in the car all day and not have any issues. That’s exactly what we did. » – Seth Quintero
A second consecutive stage win in the truck race for Dmitry Sotnikov has given him a cushion of over 17 minutes in the general classification. Sotnikov’s Kamaz team-mates Anton Shibalov and Ayrat Mardeev are also in the Top 5. Ignacio Casale is seventh overall on his return to the truck category.
« The feeling today was very nice. There were lots of dunes and strong competitors all around me. » – Ignacio Casale
There’s more dunes for the 2021 Dakar Rally convoy to tackle tomorrow on Stage Three. The 403-kilometre timed special stage will skirt the edges of the notorious Empty Quarter desert before returning competitors to the Wadi Ad-Dawasir bivouac.
2021 Dakar Rally Car Race Top 5 (after Stage Two)
1. S. Peterhansel (FRA) – Buggy Mini, 07:17:18
2. C. Sainz (ESP) – Mini, +00:06:37
3. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) – Toyota, +00:09:14
4. M. Serradori (FRA) – Century, +00:14:21
5. J. PRZYGONSKI (POL) Toyota, +00:24:27…
2021 Dakar Rally Bike Race Top 5 (after Stage Two)
1. J. Barreda (ESP) – Honda, 08:15:38
2. R. Brabec (USA) – Honda, +00:06:23
3. R. Branch (BWA) – Yamaha, +00:06:37
4. P. Quintanilla (CHL) – Husqvarna, +00:07:16
5. X. de Soultrait (FRA) – Husqvarna, +00:08:25…
2021 Dakar Rally Lightweight Vehicle Top 5 (after Stage Two)
1. F. Lopez (CHL) – Can-Am, 08:58:13
2. A. Domzala (POL) – Can-Am, +00:00:39
3. G. Farres (ESP) – Can-Am, +00:01:01
4. C. Gutierrez (ESP) – OT3, +00:02:47
5. R. Varela (BRA) – Can-Am, +00:04:09…
2021 Dakar Rally Truck Top 5 (after Stage Two)
1. D. Sotnikov (RUS) – Kamaz, 08:01:39
2. S. Viazovitch (BLR) – Maz, +00:17:14
3. A. Shibalov (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:22:03
4. M. Macik (CZE) – Iveco, +00:24:36
5. A. Mardeev (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:29:53…
Nasser Al-Attiyah: « It’s been a good day. We’ve just finished the stage so we will have to see how much time we have won. Yesterday we lost a lot of time because we opened the stage and it was so tough. Today we went flat out from start to finish and everything worked really well for us. »
Stéphane Peterhansel: « It was a beautiful stage and the desert was really open. It was a little bit stressful this morning because the car was really heavy when we arrived in the dunes. The dunes came near the start so we were carrying lots of fuel. The priority was not to get stuck. »
Carlos Sainz: « We had a couple of problems with the waypoints. We also had an issue with the engine that we will check tonight. »
Kuba Przygoński: « It was a long stage, we only made one navigation mistake so that’s not too bad. We lost around three minutes. It was nice Dakar stage, really fast. »
Sébastien Loeb: « It was quite a good day. I think we did a good stage. There was just one mistake at the end that cost us four or five minutes. There were no problems with the car. »
Giniel de Villiers: « We had an absolute disaster with the navigation, we drove about 50km extra. There was a waypoint that the GPS didn’t pick up so it was a nightmare. We probably lost more than half an hour. »
Toby Price: « It was a difficult stage to lead out. The first 100km felt really good, then Kevin (Benavides) caught up. I was racing him for the next 250km. Then I started having an issue with my rear tank, the fuel pump or something wasn’t working. I had to conserve fuel because I only had my front tanks. It was tough but it’s something we can sort out tonight in the bivouac. »
Sam Sunderland: « We’ve only got six tyres for the whole race so we have to be careful. Also, it seems that whoever is opening each stage is losing a lot of time because of the nature of the terrain. It’s not easy to have a mistake free run. There’s so many canyons out there and if miss the entrance of the right one by 30 metres you end up in the wrong canyon. »
Daniel Sanders: « Today started off really well. It was a fast stage so it was tough to make up time. Just near the end I missed a note and that cost me a fair bit of time. Other than that it went well and I was really happy with how I was riding. I should have a good starting position for tomorrow so I’m looking forward to that. »
Laia Sanz: « Today I felt more comfortable with the speed. It was a really fast stage and I’m happy with the rhythm I’m starting to find. Hopefully I can improve day by day. My aim is to arrive at the finish. »
Mohammed Jaffar: « I felt so comfortable on the bike today. Yesterday was a mess for me, but today I felt really good. This is already the longest desert race I have done in my life and so far we’ve only had two stages! There’s still such a long way to go. »
Ignacio Casale: « I’m very happy to here at the finish of Stage Two. The feeling today was very nice. There were lots of dunes and strong competitors all around me. I need to take care of my truck so I can bring it to the finish. »
Chaleco López: « It was a very difficult and very long stage. The sand was nice and it was a great Dakar stage. I got stuck in the dunes at the beginning of the stage but then I was able to pass the leading riders on the fast section. »
Cristina Gutiérrez: « I tried to be patient because today was a very, very long stage. We had dunes and fast sections so it was a good one to get finished with no problems. It was great yesterday to win the stage, but today was a new day and this is where my focus needed to be. »
Seth Quintero: « After yesterday my main goal today was to try and stay in the car all day and not have any issues. That’s exactly what we did. Unfortunately we got lost twice and it cost us a bit of time. Despite this we managed to keep a good pace and I’m just stoked to bring the car to the finish line once again. »