Indian rider Harith Noah achieved a historic milestone on Monday, securing his place as the first Indian to claim victory in a stage at the renowned Dakar Rally. Riding for the Sherco TVS Rally Factory squad, the Germany-born Kerala rider emerged triumphant in Stage 8 of the Rally 2 class.
Despite battling a cold in Stage 7, Harith displayed exceptional resilience, finishing 16th overall. However, his exceptional performance in Stage 8 elevated him to 13th place in the overall standings and third in the Rally 2 class.
In a social media post, Harith shared his excitement, stating, “P11 (overall standing) Stage 8, 458km. Felt good on the bike, and my sickness is getting better too. I guess everything feels good when you do good.”
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The Dakar Rally continued with Sebastien Loeb (Prodrive) securing his fourth victory in this year’s edition on Tuesday. Stage nine witnessed challenging terrains, including dunes, intricate navigation, and rocky, sandy tracks spanning 400km.
Despite Loeb’s impressive performance, Carlos Sainz (Audi) maintained his lead in the overall car standings, with Ricky Brabec (Honda) leading the bikes.
Reflecting on his day, Loeb remarked, “It was a good day for us, a long stage. We had two punctures in the middle of the stage, so at the end I had to be a bit careful and not have a third one. The gap is still big, but we still have three stages to go. So, we’ll see and we’ll continue to push for the next three days.”
Carlos Sainz faced challenges during the stage but received strong support from Audi teammates Mattias Ekstrom and Stephane Peterhansel. Peterhansel mentioned, “I waited for Carlos for six minutes at the start to escort him throughout the special, always 30 seconds behind just in case.”
With three stages remaining before the final stage finish in Yanbu, Harith Noah and the competitors are gearing up for the intense conclusion of the Dakar Rally. The battle for supremacy continues, with Harith making his mark as a trailblazer for Indian riders on this challenging global stage.