2024 Dakar: Two Audis on top with BFGoodrich
After an awesome opening week in Saudi Arabia, Audi RS Q E-Tron drivers Carlos Sainz and Mattias Ekström have emerged as the 2024 Dakar’s provisional front-runners, ahead of Sébastien Loeb (Prodrive Hunter).
Numerous potential challengers were eliminated during last week’s two grueling two-day stages and traverse of the Empty Quarter Desert, including last year’s victor Nasser Al-Attiyah (Prodrive) and multiple winner Stéphane Peterhansel (Audi).
In contrast, Spain’s Sainz has produced a faultless run so far, making maximum use of his BFGoodrich KDR3 tires over the dunes and sandy terrain to go 20 minutes clear of his Swedish team-mate Ekström.
Third-placed Loeb is a further nine minutes behind after the Frenchman clocked the fastest time on the awesome ’48H Chrono’ stage. Toyota youngsters Lucas Moraes and Guillaume de Mévius round out the top five, more than an hour adrift.
BFGoodrich runners Mitchell Guthrie and Cristina Gutierrez have a footing on the Challenger class’s provisional podium, with Sara Price and Xavier de Soultrait similarly in the SSV category’s top three.
There are still 1 482 competitive miles to come before next week’s finish in Yanbu.