Dakar 2021 Stage 9, a loop around Neom with a fast 465km special, proved brutal for Australian KTM champion Toby Price who crashed at kilometer 155 and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Tabuk. Price is conscious but is being treated for head, right wrist, and left shoulder injuries. The Aussie was third-fastest during today’s stage before he crashed. Later today, Argentinean Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) also crashed and had to be airlifted out; he has injured his shoulder. Ross Branch was forced out of the rally today following an engine fail, and Original by Motul leader Maurizio Gerini had to quit the race after a bad crash even though he had completed the stage.

Ricky Brabec was second-fastest today but lost fifteen minutes assisting Toby Price; he is likely to get the time back, however.

“Today we had Toby go down and hit the dirt. He’s a little bit injured, I think it’s his left shoulder and left arm. He hit pretty hard on the left and didn’t really know where he was. He asked me probably seven times where he was and who I was. I came across him and just hung out with him until the helicopter got there. What we do is dangerous, so it’s unfortunate that he is out. We hope he’s okay. It’s something we have to think about every time we put the gear on each morning. It could be any of us. This day last year we lost a really good friend in Paulo and today Toby crashed and went out of the rally, but he’s going to be OK. For sure, going on for the rest of the day was really difficult. I got stuck in the dust for a while and it kind of made me angry, so I just pushed and got around it. Then I kind of opened the stage with Joan the rest of the way. Me and Joan took turns opening and it was really fun. But things are shaking up, we’ve all got smoked tires. There are three days left and stage 11 is going to be the longest one”, Brabec commented after coming back to the bivouac.

Today, Kevin Benavides won the stage with Brabec coming in second and Jose Ignacio Cornejo third. This places Brabec fourth in the overall, sparking a new hope he may repeat his 2020 victory.

Today’s rankings:

1 4 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021 36H 51′ 00”
2 47 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021 37H 02′ 24” + 00H 11′ 24” 00H 02′ 00”
3 5 RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM 37H 05′ 34” + 00H 14′ 34”
4 1 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021 37H 08′ 26” + 00H 17′ 26”
5 88 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021 37H 20′ 00” + 00H 29′ 00”
6 21 KTM FACTORY TEAM 37H 29′ 23” + 00H 38′ 23” 00H 07′ 00”
7 9 BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM 37H 31′ 25” + 00H 40′ 25” 00H 06′ 00”
8 15 SHERCO FACTORY 37H 33′ 08” + 00H 42′ 08”
10 11 SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM 38H 05′ 07” + 01H 14′ 07”

Featured image: Dakar.com

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