Today's 273-mile 10th stage of the Total Paris-Dakar Rally was a dramatic one, as the erstwhile top two riders in the overall standings - Frenchman Richard Sainct and Spaniard Joan Roma - experienced major problems and dropped way back. The motor on Sainct's KTM stopped at mile 208, and he had to wait for assistance, while Roma crashed his BMW and apparently broke his leg, and was transported by airplane to receive medical attention.
This means that Italian Fabrizio Meoni has taken over the overall lead in the rally, with a total time of 28 hours, 26 minutes and 17 seconds. Meoni finished third on his KTM in today's 270-mile special test, about two minutes behind winner Alfie Cox of South Africa. Spaniard Jordi Arcarons was second.
Thanks to the problems of the top two, American Jimmy Lewis advanced another position to sixth overall. He'd have moved to fifth, but Cox passed him in the overall results. Lewis was 12th in today's stage, and is now about two hours behind overall leader Meoni. Johnny Campbell was 11th in today's test, and now sits in ninth overall, three-and-three-quarter hours behind Sainct.
Today's stage started in El Ghallaouiya and finished in Atar, and it was a difficult one, running through virgin terrain and sand dunes. The highlight was the crossing of the Erg Beyyed and the descent of the Aghreijt Pass. The rally is now half-completed, and tomorrow will be a rest day for the competitors. It comes a day too late for Sainct and Roma