Today marked the longest total stage of the rally at 886 kilometers with over half of it being on pavement on liaisons. It took about 3 and half hours for the competitors just to get to the start of the special. This stage would be similar to the opening stage having a little bit of every terrain.
“With this long stage, the Dakar prepares to enter the “Empty Quarter”. The main factor will be driving precision, this time with mainly hard ground and a number of rough portions for those who are not careful enough. On reach Haradh, built around oil and agriculture, the rally enters a new phase.” – Dakar
Terrain Breakdown for Stage 9
- 35% Sand
- 35% Soil
- 24% Stones
- 5% Dunes
- 1% Tarmac
Casey and Sean started todays stage 7th off the line and the first 50 kilometers would be filled with rocks. They would manage to get through there 3rd on corrected time and open up a 3 minute gap on 2nd overall Francisco Lopez Contardo. Casey would suffer a flat though in the next section before coming into the neutralization zone at KM165 reducing that gap. Francisco would break his front differential but would luckily have it happen right at the neutralization point and be able to fix it without losing too much time. Casey would be right behind Francisco going into the second half of the stage. Casey would catch up to Francisco’s back wheels and would manage the gap. They had already reeled him in and now had an 8 minute gap on the stage, so it was time to not push the car and reduce the risk of breaking.
“Alright day 9 in the books, today was gnarly in the beginning. Crazy big rocks and lots of sand washes. Sean and I just pushed hard and didn’t really make any mistakes. We got a lucky break, a T4 passed us and from there we had clean air and we’re able to make a good run. We ended up 3rd for the day and put 8 minutes on 2nd for the overall. We gotta just keep pushing hard, the car is really good and I’m happy.” – Casey
Casey finished 3rd on the stage and bumped his Overall lead to 23m 37s going into the Marathon Stage. On the Marathon Stage the competitors will not have any outside assistance over night, they will have to fix anything they break with parts they or their teammates carry on their cars. It will be a true test of endurance for the teams.
Stage 9 SSV Results
- Blade Hildebrand 4h 00m 42s
- Mitchell Guthrie +58s
- Casey Currie +03m 30s
- Sergei Kariakin +10m 27s
- Francisco Lopez Contardo +11m 27s
SSV Overall Results after Stage 9
- Casey Currie 43h 51m 49s
- Francisco Lopez Contardo +23m 37s
- Sergei Kariakin +41m 26s
- Conrad Rautenbach +1h 16m 28s
- Jose Hinojo Lopez +01h 17m 53s
Story and photos courtesy of CaseyCurrie.com