While Stage 7 of the Dakar Rally was cancelled for bikes and quads, there was no break for the competitors on four wheels as cars, trucks and side-by-sides departed Riyadh for Al Duwadimi on Saturday. Adding to the challenge of the 333km/207-mile route was time-limited assistance at the finish line before the convoy proceeded to a marathon bivouac.

Taking his third stage win of the event in the T3 class was America’s Mitch Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Kellon Walch, who are representing the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich in a T3-M by MCE5 vehicle.

“Today’s stage had a little bit of everything, so that was cool,” said Guthrie. “We started near the back of the pack so we were able to chase some cars down.”

Guthrie Jr. took the stage win after some tight racing against teammates Seth Quintero/Dennis Zenz and race leaders Guillaume De Mevius/Francois Cazalet. De Mevius now leads the overall T3 race by 8m29s from the Can-Am of Austin Jones/Gustavo Gugelmin. Quintero is just over an hour behind De Mevius and now has seven stages left to reel him in.

Also in the T3 race, Ignacio Casale and co-driver Alvaro Leon enjoyed their best day of the rally so far as they finished today’s stage fifth. Three-time quad race winner Casale looks set to push on in the rally’s sec ond week.

There was no change at the front of the T1 car race, with Nasser Al-Attiyah still on course for a fifth Dakar title. The Toyota man and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel now have an advantage of more than an hour over their closest competitor, Toyota stablemate Henk Lategan.

Dakar Rally rookie Lucas Moraes and his co-driver Timo Gottschalk still hold third-place overall in the car contest. Two places back from them, Sebastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin are chasing down a podium place in their BRX Hunter.

It was another day to forget for Team Audi Sport at the Dakar after Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz both gave up their hopes of a podium finish yesterday. On Stage 7, the third Audi RS Q e-tron E2 — driven by Mattias Ekstrom — lost three hours due to mechanical issues.

“It’s so disappointing to be out of the race. Even with some small issues we were still fighting for the lead,” said Peterhansel, who admitted, “If I had won this Dakar the plan was to then retire. To go out on a high.”

Joining Guthrie in making it a hat-trick of stage wins was Rokas Baciuska of the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team. The 23-year-old Lithuanian and his co-driver Oriol Mena now find themselves exactly where they want to be, at the summit of the overall T4 rankings.

The bikes and quads rejoin the rally for Stage 8 tomorrow, a 345km/214-mile timed special stage. A rest day will follow on Monday, followed by the final six stages on consecutive days.

Selected Overall Standings after Stage 7

T1 Car Class
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) TOYOTA 27:26:23
2. Henk Lategan (ZAF) TOYOTA +01:01:04
3. Lucas Moraes (BRA) TOYOTA +01:11:24
4. Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) TOYOTA +01:36:47
5. Sebastien Loeb (FRA) BRX +01:54:17

T3 Lightweight Prototype
1. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) OT3 31:43:12
2. Austin Jones (USA) CAN-AM +08:29
3. Seth Quintero (USA) CAN-AM +01:02:55
4. Chaleco Lopez (CHL) CAN-AM +02:38:55
5. Cristina Gutierrez (ESP) CAN-AM +02:56:45
10. Ignacio Casale (CHL) YAMAHA +06:53:23
26. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) CAN-AM +24:41:22

T4 SSV
1. Rokas Baciuska (LTU) CAN-AM 33:08:46
2. Marek Goczal (POL) CAN-AM +05:42
3. Eryk Goczal (POL) CAN-AM +06:23

Bikes
1. Skyler Howes (USA) HUSQVARNA 26:31:52
2. Toby Price (AUS) KTM +01:55
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG) KTM +07:01
8. Daniel Sanders (AUS) GASGAS +19:54