2019 SSV winner Chaleco Lopez is back on top of the overall UTV standings of the 2021 Dakar Rally thanks to his third consecutive stage win today, completing the 456-kilometer Neom loop stage in 5:31:41 after an intense day where the overall lead changed hands multiple times. Khalifa Al-Attiyah placed second on the day, just over 11 minutes behind, while Marek Goczal completed the Tuesday podium despite taking a five-minute penalty on the day.
It was a brutal day for American racers Austin Jones and Seth Quintero, who had led the T4 SSV and T3 lightweight prototype divisions coming into the day and were first and second among all UTV racers. Jones suffered two flats and had to take it easy on stage, finishing 10th on the day at more than 33 minutes off the lead, but nobody had a rougher day in the office than Quintero. The provisional leader at the 63 kilometer point, the Californian rookie suffered a mechanical issue before the halfway point that will end his, and the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team’s, hopes for overall victory.
As a result, the T3 class win went to Quintero’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, who herself had to drop out of the overall chase earlier this week with a stage DNF of her own. Despite 16 minutes of penalties, Gutierrez Herrero still won the stage by 47 seconds over former IndyCar driver Tomas Enge, while Philippe Pinchedez in third. Josef Machacek has inherited the T3 class lead, but Quintero’s advantage of more than four hours over Machacek coming into the day means that no T3 is remotely close to the overall UTV lead, or even in the overall top 10.
Fortunately for American Dakar fans, there was a bright spot in the results, as SCORE legend Wayne Matlock brought the factory-backed Polaris RZR squad an event-best sixth place finish on stage to climb to 14th place in the T4 SSV standings. Matlock beat multiple drivers in the overall top five, including former overall leader Aron Domzala in seventh, Michal Goczal in eighth, and Jones in 10th. Kristen Matlock’s Dakar Experience run continued with a 24th place in T4 SSV and 34th among all UTV racers.
The 2021 Dakar Rally continues tomorrow with a 583-kilometer drive to AlUla, with 342 kilometers of that run reserved for special stages. The NBC Sports Network continues to carry a full hour of 2021 Dakar Rally coverage tonight at 6PM ET/3PM PT, with today’s action occupying the second half of the time slot.
2021 Dakar Rally Stage 9 Winners
- Lightweight Prototype: Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, 6:17:40
- SSV: Chaleco Lopez, 5:31:41
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Rankings
|Class||T3 (Lightweight Prototype)||T4 (SSV)|
|1st||Josef Machacek, 47:05:35||Chaleco Lopez, 42:05:20|
|2nd||Camelia Liparoti, +1:16:46||Austin Jones, +12:25|
|3rd||Philippe Pinchedez, +2:21:10||Aron Domzala, +38:03|
|4th||Jean-Luc Pisson, +2:47:11||Michal Goczal, +1:03:30|
|5th||Jean Remy Berghoune, +3:53:55||Reinaldo Varela, +1:23:40|