Checking off yet another physically demanding stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally, Laia Sanz has broken into the top 20 in the overall provisional classification following another solid ride in the desert. Getting things going on stage nine with a strong early pace, she reached the first waypoint in 18th before riding into dust left by the competitors ahead. Reducing her speed a little due to the dust and a small crash, her change in pace paid off as she went on to successfully complete the stage in 23rd, equaling her best result of this year’s rally to date.
Laia Sanz: “Today was tough! I had to ride in dust early on and for many kilometers, so I had to be cautious. The stage went through many riverbeds and rocks where I tested out my airbag during a small crash! I was ok and got going again but then I passed a couple of guys who were being attended to after crashing, so I chose to just maintain a steady pace with no risks and thankfully reached the finish line in one piece.”
As with previous stages seen so far in the Dakar, the ninth stage served up a mixture of technical terrain, which sadly caught out many riders, Laia included. A small crash was enough for her airbag to fire into action, but thankfully the Spanish rally star escaped unscathed. After that, and passing a couple of fallen riders that were receiving medical assistance, Sanz opted for a steady ride to the stage’s finish in Neom.
Stage 10 of the 2021 Dakar Rally begins with some epic views of the Red Sea coast. The scenery soon changes though, with the stage heading inland and winding its way through rocky valley after rocky valley. Completing the 342-kilometer special stage unscathed will be super-important ahead of the longest special of the entire event, which follows the very next day.
Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2021, stage 9
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 4:49:15
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:50:33
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 4:50:49
23. Laia Sanz (GASGAS) 5:46:40
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 9)
1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 36:51:00
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 37:02:24
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 37:05:34
20. Laia Sanz (GASGAS) 41:26:47