Fernando Alonso recorded his best stage finish so far in the Dakar Rally on Monday with second place, four minutes off day victor Mathieu Serradori.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso dropped out of contention for overall honours for his Dakar debut on the second stage after hitting a rock, causing damage that cost the Spaniard and Toyota co-driver Marc Coma two-and-a-half hours.

Alonso clawed his way back up the order with a number of solid finishes in the following days, but hit a new height on Monday as he managed to take P2 on the 477 km stage at Wadi ad-Dawasir.

The result lifted Alonso and Coma up to 13th in the overall classification, and the duo now sit less than five minutes off a place in the top 10.

It marks a considerable achievement for Alonso, who initially set out seeing his Dakar debut as an “enriching experience” instead of contending towards the front of the running order.

Serradori and co-driver Fabian Lurquin took their maiden Dakar stage win in their Century Buggy for SRT Racing, while Orlando Terranova and Bernardo Graue completed the podium for the day in third place in the X-Raid Mini.

Carlos Sainz Sr. remains the overall leader of the Dakar Rally despite finishing down in 15th on the stage, 19 minutes off Serradori.

Second-placed Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel took four minutes out of Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz’s lead, placing 11th, but remain 6m40s off the front.

All motorbike and quad racing was cancelled on Monday following the death of Paulo Gonçalves on Stage 7.

 

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