Carlos Sainz and his co-driver Lucas Cruz in the #305 MINI JCW Buggy won the seventh stage of the 2020 Dakar in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, January 12. It was the third stage win for Sainz and Cruz and the sixth for MINI. With five stages remaining, Sainz and Cruz have a ten-minute lead over second-place Toyota runners Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mattheiu Baumel.
MINI’s Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Paulo Fiuza, who have won two stages in the #302 Buggy, are third overall, and two other MINI teams are in the top ten. They are Orlando Terranova and Bernardo Graue in the #311 MINI JCW Rally in fifth, and Yasir Seaidan and Alexey Kuzmich in the #324 MINI JCW Rally in ninth. The stage one winning Lithuanian MINI duo of Vaidotas Zala and Saulius Jurgelenas have fallen back to eighteenth in the overall standings.
Stage seven was overshadowed by the death of Paulo Goncalves, a veteran competitor in the bike class and 2015 Dakar runner-up, following a crash just after the halfway point on the route. Stage eight on Monday has been canceled for the bike and quad classes to allow competitors a day of mourning.
The rally ends on January 17, with the final stage run between Haradh and Qiddayah, Saudi Arabia. More details on the rally are available on the Dakar website.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy X-raid.]