The final challenge before the rest day left no room for error. The loop south of Al Duwadimi, originally scheduled for the day before, was shortened to 345 kilometres to give the entire field time to take the long road section leading to the bivouac in Riyadh. Before that, the competitors wrestled with the devilish navigation of the stage, both on the gravel tracks at the start of the special and in the sequence of valleys and chains of dunes in the finale.
The Dakar and Dakar Classic follow different paths for Lurquin Sr and Lurquin Jr. The father, Jean-Marie, made a name for himself racing with Jean-Louis Schlesser in his buggy, while the son, Fabian, first followed in his footsteps by contributing to the car debut of Mathieu Serradori, also a private driver in his two-wheel drive Century. Sébastien Loeb soon took Fabian under his wing, where he has been racing in the Dakar for the BRX team since last year. Jean-Marie and Fabian are currently chasing the same objective: to get on the provisional podium and, why not, grab the win if the leaders were to falter. “Lulu” let his nous and navigation experience do the talking today to win a regularity stage in which navigation played an important part with his driver, Erik Qvick. It was not enough to rise to fourth overall like his son and Loeb did today. The Belgian crew is fifth in the Dakar Classic. The two Spanish crews continue to dominate the Classic.