To pay tribute to the Empty Quarter and bid it a dignified farewell, the penultimate special was held to the south of Shaybah, in a vast and beautiful expanse of sand with chains of dunes as far as the eye can see.
The third edition of the Dakar Classic came to an end today, as the caravan will take a road section to the Arabian Gulf tomorrow. This evening, Juan Morera and Lidia Ruba can celebrate becoming the first crew to almost whitewash the entire race in its young history. The Spanish couple has held the overall lead since stage 2, leaving only the scraps of stage 1 to another returning crew, the Galpins in their Protruck. Their friends Carlos Santaolalla and Aran Sol i Juanola follow them in the standings, ahead of the Italians Paolo Bedeschi and Daniele Bottallo. The 2022 champions, Serge Mogno and Florent Drulhon, fifth overall, shone by winning the Challenge Dune Test, which for the first time rewarded the top performances on the chains of dunes. In the Authentic Codriver Challenge, a crew that started with all the modern instruments on board made the best of a bad job. Since their tech simply refused to work, they signed up for the challenge from the age of pencil and paper and came out on top! In the long-awaited Iconic Classic Challenge, reserved for individual vehicles that have already taken part in the Dakar, another Toyota HDJ 80 claimed the title. Indeed, every single 2023 champion was racing in an “80”. The Catalans in second place overall drove one that had taken part in the 1994 and 1996 editions, which won the Iconic Classic Challenge here. In one of those tales that delight the Historic, this vehicle used to belong to Jacky Ickx, who planned to race the Dakar in it. Alas, it was not to be, but the story comes full circle in this edition, as the Belgian driver, who has spent the whole fortnight serving as the ambassador of the race, has finally seen “his” car dash to victory in this challenge in the Dakar Classic!