Stage 2 gave participants their first real taste of the sand dunes that are set to feature heavily in this year’s edition of the Dakar Rally. However, heavy rain resulted in the cancellation of the Marathon stage. Instead, Stage 2 ran under normal rules, with competitors allowed to receive external assistance from their teams.
Overall, it was a strong stage for the Indian contingent, with both Hero MotoSports riders finishing in the top 10 and Harith Noah also making some good progress.
- Aaron Mare up to ninth overall for Hero
- Sam Sunderland and Al-Attiyah in the lead
Both Hero MotoSports riders in the top 10
Joaquim Rodrigues made up for the time he lost in the opening stage. “It was a really good day for me – almost like a reward – after having lost a lot of time in stage 1B. I was able to put up a good pace right from the beginning of the stage, and was able to catch up with the riders ahead of me,” he said. He ended up finishing the stage in sixth place, helping him climb up to 18th place in the overall ranking.
Aaron Mare continued to deliver and put in another solid stage, finishing 10th. As a result, he breaks into the overall top 10, securing ninth place in the order.
Harith Noah up to 32nd
Harith Noah also made up for a difficult opening stage. With no navigation and technical trouble this time around, he was able to finish the stage in 27th place. This sees him move up to 32nd place overall.
Barreda, Loeb win Stage 2
Honda rider Joan Barreda won Stage 2, as early leader Daniel Sanders lost a chunk of time due to navigation trouble. This pushed Barreda into the top 10 after a difficult opening stage.
But, it is GasGas rider Sam Sunderland who takes the overall lead in the bikes category. With all of his closest rivals running into trouble, his second place result was enough for him to move into the lead.
Over in the cars category, nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb took victory in Stage 2 for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team. This helps Loeb eat into Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah’s overall lead – the gap between the two is now just over nine minutes.
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