|What||Red-Lined Dakar Day 9 Report|
|Where||Haradh, Saudi Arabia|
|When||Wednesday 14 January 2020|
Thomas makes a new Dakar mark
Dubai-based British Sabertooth pair Thomas Bell and Patrick McMurran turned a tough couple of days at Dakar 2020 on their tail as the intrepid duo powered their SA-built and run Red-Lined Nissan Navara to their best Dakar result yet through the Saudi Arabian Desert to Haradh on Tuesday. Teammates, South African TreasuryOne duo Hennie de Klerk and Johann Smalberger endured a more challenging day, yet they still met their objective of move up into the top 30 overall.
“We had our best ever day on the Dakar, so we are pretty chuffed!” Thomas Bell reported. “This is our second crack at this great race and slowly, slowly we are improving stage-by-stage — we finished the race last year and now we are just happy to keep on improving, so 32nd on the day is a great result to us and we are also happy to move up another two positions to 37th overall today. “Now the plan is to get through tomorrow and Thursday’s marathon stage with no service overnight, 950km of racing and a 1500km round trip and then another full day to the finish Friday. “It is all still to do!”
De Klerk and Smalberger were forced to change a gearbox on their Navara overnight and that ultimately impacted on their day “Unfortunately the transmission we scrounged has the wrong gear ratios, so we have lost 30km/h top end and were very slow on today's early flat out sections,” Hennie explained. “We were passed and ended up in the dust, so we made a call to stop chasing and rather concentrate getting through the marathon stage and on to the finish on Friday. “Still we moved up two more places to 29th overall , so let’s see where we end up — this is Dakar, anything can happen!”
“Most importantly, we still have two cars in the race,” Red-Lined team boss Terence Marsh admitted. “It has been a challenge at times, but in all it’s gone well — props to Thomas and Patrick on another best Dakar stage result and even though Hennie and Johann had to take it easy today, they still made up overall, so all good. “We still however have more than two Desert Races — or four SA nationals to race and most of that without service, so it’s eyes on the road, keep those hands on the wheel and bring those Navaras home guys!
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