SSV racer Austin Jones ensured that at least one American would maintain the overall lead of the Dakar Rally with a second place finish in Monday’s 338-kilometer Stage 2. While he missed out on the stage victory by a minute and 21 seconds behind Poland’s Michal Goczal, Jones managed to inherit the top spot from a different Polish driver, Aron Domzala. His overall time of 8:51:19 is good enough for a 1:52 lead over Goczal, the closest margin of any class through the first two stages of the event.
America’s hopes for dual UTV triumphs in the event were dashed, however, when Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver Seth Quintero suffered a mechanical failure for the second year in a row. His front differential issue, following gearbox troubles last year, means he’ll be towing back to the bivouac and only chasing stage victories from here on out.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Red Bull squad, at least, as Quintero’s teammate and Dakar rookie Guillaume De Mevius scored his maiden Dakar stage victory with a time of 4:02:24. Defending class winner Chaleco Lopez was second and inherited the overall Light Prototype lead, while fellow Dakar rookie Sebastien Eriksson made it a 2-3 on the day and a 1-2 in the overall classification for the EKS South Racing squad.
Just two stages into the rally, each class is far from decided, but already both divisions are shaping up with some of the tightest battles of the event. The entire SSV podium is separated by under three minutes, with third place Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira himself just 2:28 behind Jones. The gaps are a bit larger between Lopez, Eriksson (7:22), and third place Pavel Lebedev (23:48), but the Light Prototype class has seen no shortage of attrition at the event since its debut; defending champion Josef Machacek is ninth, two hours out of the lead, but remained consistent and patient all last year to take over the top spot as others fell out of the running.
2022 Dakar Rally Stage 2 winners were as follows:
- Light Prototype: Guillaume De Mevius (BEL), 4:02:24
- SSV: Michal Goczal (POL), 4:10:34
2022 Dakar Rally overall leaders after Stage 2 are as follows:
- Light Prototype: Chaleco Lopez (CHL), 8:30:15
- SSV: Austin Jones (USA), 8:51:19
The Dakar Rally continues tomorrow with Stage 3, featuring 225 kilometers of special stage heading to Al Qaisumah. Coverage of Stage 2 will air on the Olympic Channel tonight at 8PM ET, with extended highlights also streaming on NBC Sports digital platforms and Peacock.