Unfortunately, today's stage saw the death of Australian motorcycle rider Andy Caldecott, who was killed instantly in a huge accident 250 km into the stage. Caldecott was competing in his third Dakar.
Today's 874 km stage marks the rally's last day in Mauritania, and the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team tightened their grip on the leaderboard, as Stephane Peterhansel (pictured) won the 599 km Special Stage, extending his lead by more than 8 minutes, to 9 min 16 sec,over teammate Luc Alphand.
Volkswagen's de Villiers now trails Peterhansel by more than 54 minutes, followed by the Mitsubishi team of Roma and Magne, over 96 minutes back of the leader.
Tomorrow's stage crosses the border into Mali, and the dunes will change to savannah and bushland, and speeds will increase accordingly. While the cars and trucks will race Stage 10, the stage will be neutralized for the bikes, in tribute to Andy Caldecott.
Significant changes had been made to the rules for this year's Dakar to make the race safer for bikes, including instituting a 150 km/hr maximum speed limit. Unfortunately, cross-country rallying (and the Dakar in particular) is inherently dangerous, particularly for the motorcycle riders. Our thoughts are with Andy Caldecott's family.