The tenth stage was to become a kind of DAKAR jewel. It had the status of “super marathon” – after the finish, participants must service their sports equipment on their own. At the same time, their teammates or even rivals can help the racers, but not the mechanics – they and the press representatives accredited from sports teams were not allowed to enter the bivouac in Shubaytah. The spare parts can be used either your own that you need to take on board and travel with them the stage distance (which is overweight), or removed from the cars and motorcycles of other participants. Motorcyclists and quad riders had a similar stage at the current DAKAR, but for crews performing in various categories of cars, this is the first experience of the marathon stage at the present event.
Tactics play the most important role at the marathon stages. On the one hand, it is necessary to maintain the right pace so as not to lose to rivals. But, on the other hand, it is important to save the vehicles to the maximum – after all, you will have to repair it yourself.
But all the plans of the participants and teams collapsed suddenly – the tenth special stage length was seriously reduced: instead of 534 kilometers of the competitive distance, the field drove only 345 kilometers, after which absolutely all crews were sent to the bivouac in road mode.
The reason for the stage distance reduction was a dust storm that broke out at the second part of the special stage – the Rub’ al Khali desert showed its harsh character and confirmed the impassable status that it has been holding for several centuries. This is one of the largest and hottest deserts in the world, located on the Arab Peninsula in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the UAE. Sand dunes up to 300 meters high, plaster plains, gravel and reddish-orange sand – they are very beautiful, but very difficult for racers.
The stage unusual “super marathon” status was marked by unusual results – Anton Shibalov from the KAMAZ-master team won the Truck standings at the tenth special stage. The second and third results were shown by his teammates – Dmitry Sotnikov and Eduard Nikolaev. The three crews had a good pace, and the times at the finish differed by minutes.
Gert Huzink, performing in a Renault hybrid truck, was the fourth – an excellent result for a brand new vehicle. Andrey Karginov, the standings leader, finished after him – he lost two and a half minutes to Shibalov, who set the best time, but it did not affect his margin from the rivals in the general classification – Karginov has created too much gap for the past few days of the race.
The tenth special stage became a stumbling block for the Belarusian MAZ-SPORTauto team crews. At the very beginning of the special stage, in the truck of Sergey VYAZOVICH, the racing team leader, the left front wheel pumping system tube was cut off. As a result, the crew had to stop twice on the track – the first time to replace the wheel, and the second time to shut off the tube, thereby depriving themselves of a chance to change the pressure in one of the wheels.
The other two drivers of the team, performing in MAZ trucks with the G-Energy logo on board, Alexey VISHNEVSKY and Alexander VASILEVSKIY also stopped next to VYAZOVICH’s car in order to help him with the repair.
After the repair work completion, VYAZOVICH and VASILEVSKY continued to go through the special stage together – the letter now plays the role of a “fast technical vehicle”, supporting two other crews in case of any problems.
At the day finish, Alexey VISHNEVSKIY showed the 11th result 14 minutes behind the special stage winner. Alexander VASILEVSKIY finished with the 17th time, and Sergey VYAZOVICH became the 19th.
But the Belarusian team problems did not end there. On the bivouac, VYAZOVICH’s crew discovered a breakdown of one plate in each of the rear springs. Now, one of the other two MAZ trucks is to become a donor of these details.
According to the tenth special stage results, Andrey Karginov is continuing to lead the Truck standings. Anton Shibalov is the second, losing 36 minutes to him. Sergey VYAZOVICH is maintaining the third position – his lag behind the leader is 1 hour 40 minutes at the moment.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS WILL FIND TOMORROW
The 11th stage is the return from Shubaytah to Haradh. The numbers will tell about tomorrow special stage complexity: 10% of the route will be a soil surface, and the remaining 90% will be sands and dunes. Moreover, the first 80 kilometers of the 379-kilometer special stage are the craziest dunes of Saudi Arabia. At the tenth stage, the desert did not obey the participants - the special stage had to be greatly reduced. Tomorrow, the racers will have the second attempt. How will the desert answer them?