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Sebastien Loeb remained dominant in Stage 10 of the 2023 Dakar Rally with his third consecutive victory, but Nasser Al-Attiyah still controls the overall standings in the premier car category.
The Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver cut nearly 6 minutes off Al-Attiyah’s lead with his fourth stage victory in the No. 201 Prodrive Hunter, winning the short 114-kilometer special in 1 hour, 48 minutes, 32 seconds over Mattias Ekstrom and Lucas Moraes.
“It was a good stage for us,” said Loeb, a legendary champion of World Rallycross who is seeking his first Dakar Rally victory in his sixth start. “No mistakes, no problems. Only dunes for more than 100 kilometers. It was quite demanding, but the feeling was good with the car. We were the first on the track, but we had the motorbike tracks. It was OK; no troubles.”
The Frenchman remained third in the overall standings but still trails Al-Attiyah by 1 hour, 37 minutes and 23 seconds.
With four stages remaining, Al-Attiyah has a 1:21:34 lead over Moraes after the four-time Qatari champion finished fourth in Stage 10 (5 minutes, 45 seconds behind Loeb).
“The special was short but tough,” Al-Attiyah said. “We got to the Empty Quarter. It was a good day to test things for tomorrow. We know what we need. I’m pleased. I’ve got a good feeling with the car. We didn’t make any mistakes. I didn’t push too hard today. I didn’t want to take risks. The marathon stage is tomorrow.”
A critical Stage 11 — with a marathon 275-kilometer special (more than double of Stage 10) — looms for the Dakar Rally in what could be the last opportunity for big movement in the standings. The event now has entered the Empty Quarter section that is dominated by dunes and sand.
In the bike category, American rider Skyler Howes slipped to second overall behind Kevin Benavides by 1 minute, 29 seconds with an 18th in Stage 10 because of a minor fall. But Howes, who is trying to become the second U.S. rider to win Dakar, is optimistic about his Husqvarna Factory 450 Rally heading into the marathon stage.
“Today was 100% dunes,” Howes said. “We went into two little, tiny valleys to validate some checkpoints, but otherwise some really technical dunes. A short stage but still demanding. I think the times are going to be really close today. I just wanted to make it through this stage today and get ready for the marathon stage. On short stages like this, you can definitely lose it, but trying to win it is not necessary.”
In the T3 category, Seth Quintero won Stage 10 and regained some time to overall leader Guillaume De Mevius, who finished 9 minutes, 30 seconds behind in 12th. A.J. Jones, a teammate to Quintero on the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, finished sixth in Stage 10 and is second overall, 7 minutes, 48 seconds off the lead.
There was a change in the overall lead of the truck category after Ales Loprais was involved in an incident that killed an Italian spectator. Loprais had been leading through Stage 9 but abandoned the rally to support local authorities after learning of the death upon return to the bivouac Tuesday night.
NBC Sports’ daily 6:30 p.m. ET coverage of the 2023 Dakar Rally will continue tonight on Peacock’s NBC Sports channel.
NEXT: The marathon stage will cover 426 kilometers (275 against the clock in the special) from Shaybah into the Empty Quarter and extreme endurance territory on sand of every color. Staying out of trouble is critical with no assistance trucks or mechanics available at the bivouac.
Here are the stage winners and the top three in the overall rankings for each category (along with U.S. notables) after Stage 10 of the 2023 Dakar Rally:
Stage 10 winner: Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Xtreme, 1:48:32
General rankings: 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 36:13:37; 2. Lucas Moraes (BRA), Overdrive Racing, 37:35:11; 3. Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Xtreme, 37:51:00.
Stage 10 winner: Ross Branch (BWA), Hero Motorsports Team Rally, 1:44:00
General rankings: 1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 35:46:06; 2. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna Factory Racing, 35:47:35; 3. Toby Price (AUS), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 35:48:16. U.S. notables: 6. Mason Klein (USA), BAS world KTM Racing Team, 36:01:44; 24. Jacob Argubright, Duust Co Rally Team, 39:32:24; 50. Pablo Copetti, Del Amo Motorsports, 46:36:35; 61. Petr Vlcek, Detyens Racing, 49:00:52; 90. Morrison Hart, American Rally Originals, 67:29:02; 97. James Pearson, American Rally Originals, 112:53:21. Awaiting classification: Paul Neff, American Rally Originals, 61:36:48; Withdrawal (excluded): Kyle McCoy (USA), American Rally Originals; David Pearson (USA), American Rally Originals; Lawrence Ace Nilson (USA), Duust Rally Team,. Withdrew: Ricky Brabec (USA), Monster Energy Honda, 9:42:49.
Stage 10 winner: Marcelo Medeiros (BRA), Taguatur Racing Team, 2:04:28
General rankings: 1. Alexandre Giroud (FRA), Yamaha Racing, 44:35:00; 2. Francisco Moreno Flores (ARG), Dragon, 45:52:56; 3. Manual Andjuar (ARG), 7420 Team, 46:13:44; 4. Pablo Copetti (USA), Del Amo Motorsports, 46:36:35.
T3 light prototype
Stage 10 winner: Seth Quintero (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 1:55:17
General rankings: 1. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL), Grally Team, 41:45:58; 2. Austin “A.J.” Jones (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 41:53:46; 3. Seth Quintero (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 42:49:40. U.S. notable: 28. Mitch Guthrie, Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 66:16:33.
Stage 10 winner: Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), South Racing Can-Am, 1:58:22
General rankings: 1. Rokas Baciuska (LTU), Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team, 43:17:29; 2. Eryk Goczal (POL), Energylandia Rally Team, 43:21:09; 3. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), South Racing Can-Am, 43:24:16.
Stage 10 winner: Pascal De Baar (NLD), Riwald Dakar Team, 2:09:46
General rankings: 1. Janus Van Kastren (NLD), Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco, 43:00:51; 2. Martin Van Den Brink (NLD), Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco, 43:23:32; 3. Martin Macik (CZE), MM Technology, 43:51:58.
PROLOGUE: Mattias Ekstrom leads Audi charge
STAGE 1: Ricky Brabec opens with victory; Carlos Sainz keeps Audi on top
STAGE 2: Mason Klein continues U.S. surge in bikes
STAGE 3: Brabec is eliminated by crash as inclement weather shortens stage
STAGE 4: Mason Klein, Skyler Howes overcome adversity
STAGE 5: Skyler Howes moves into overall lead in bikes
STAGE 6: Disastrous day for Audi as crashes eliminate contenders
STAGE 7: Americans excel in T3 light prototype
STAGE 8: Mason Klein, Skyler Howes keep U.S. riders at front
STAGE 9: Carlos Sainz forced to abandon event after another crash
SKYLER HOWES’ SPIRITUAL QUEST: American rider takes a gratifying road to overall lead
U.S. EXCELS IN ‘OLYMPICS OF OFF ROAD’: American T3 drivers stay on charge for Red Bull
AUDI CONTROVERSY: Electric hybrids given power boost
CARRYING THE FLAG: U.S. drivers and riders in the 2023 Dakar Rally
Dakar Rally 2023, Stage 10: Sebastien Loeb continues late push with third consecutive win originally appeared on NBCSports.com