Dakar 2021 Stage 10 | Penalty impacts Ashish Raorane’s standings
Going into the pre-penultimate stage at the 2021 Dakar brought up with itself quite a few issues for Ashish Raorane's campaign, capped off with a somewhat bittersweet ending. The 583km traverse from Neom to Al Ula (including a 342km special) started off with a cold spell, with the initial sectors alternating between slow, technical rocky sections and fast sandy tracks.
Around the 80km mark, Ashish hit a stone which he couldn't spot earlier due to the dust in the air. The resultant impact flung him over the bars, but thankfully there was no damage to either him or his bike. This was his second crash in two days, and what would have broken the nerve of many was something Ashish could still manage to brush off. Now, though he did marginally drop down the rankings, from 54 at the first waypoint to 57 and then 59 at the next two, he built up speed thereon, climbing to 58 and then 57, a spot he maintained till the end of the stage.
Ashish had to slow down in the last 20 odd kilometres, though, as the trucks caught up and filled the entire valley with dust. However, his P57 finish was relegated to P60, due to a 15-minute penalty during neutralisation. That said, he was happy to see the back of this stage and to continue his maiden Dakar venture, in the Dakar Experience category.
The second-to-last stage of the 2021 Dakar, the 598km distance between Al Ula and Yanbu – despite its currently shortened status – will pose quite a challenge, considering the abundance of dunes, which will make navigating that much more difficult.