After a day to forget for Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira in Stage 7 of the 2022 Dakar Rally, a 402 kilometer special stage leading out of the Riyadh rest day and into Al Dawadimi, American SSV racer Austin Jones is back on top of the overall rankings with just five days remaining in the event. Jones’ top-10 finish may have been 16:21 behind stage winner Aron Domzala on the day, but it was over 40 minutes faster than Luppi, who suffered a mechanical issue in the first quarter of the stage and gave up an hour in the overall rankings.
Michal Goczal was second on the day at 22 seconds behind Domzala, and slides into second overall as a result, just 5:11 behind Jones. Similarly, Gerard Farres was third on the stage (+0:42) and now sits third overall (+6:33), while Rokas Baciuska used a fifth place stage finish to also climb to fourth ahead of Luppi. The shakeup at the front of the pack has also enabled Marek Goczal, Michal’s older brother, to climb to within 41 minutes of the lead at sixth overall.
Less surprising were the Light Prototype results, where yet again, American Seth Quintero put in a performance strong enough to win a stage and Chaleco Lopez continues to hold a substantial overall lead. Quintero’s time of 3:45:20 was over five minutes faster than Red Bull teammate Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, who finished second. Pavel Lebedev rounded out the daily podium, with Lopez and Santiago Navarro completing the day’s top five.
But the event itself remains Lopez’s to lose, especially after his EKS South Racing teammate Sebastian Eriksson lost an hour on stage due to mechanical issues. The gap between that duo, which is now up to 1:24:05, is the largest between first and second place in any division of the event; Gutierrez holds the third podium spot at 2:12:40 back. Quintero, meanwhile, can only continue to lament the differential issues on Stage 2 that knocked him out of overall contention, as he’s been nearly an hour faster than Lopez across his six combined stage wins.
2022 Dakar Rally Stage 7 winners were as follows:
- Light Prototype: Seth Quintero (USA), 3:45:20
- SSV: Aron Domzala (POL), 4:00:56
2022 Dakar Rally overall leaders after Stage 7 are as follows:
- Light Prototype: Chaleco Lopez (CHL), 28:17:24
- SSV: Austin Jones (USA), 29:28:14
The Dakar Rally continues on Monday with the Stage 8 route from Al Dawadimi to Wadi Ad Dawasir, featuring nearly 400 kilometers of special stage and a route that starts with endless sand and dunes. Coverage of Stage 7 will air on the Olympic Channel tonight at 8PM ET, with extended highlights also streaming on NBC Sports digital platforms.