Southern California racer Casey Currie takes class lead in Dakar Rally

Off-road racer Casey Currie takes the lead in the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
Southern California off-road racer Casey Currie has taken the lead in his classification at the famed Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
(Courtesy of Casey Currie)

Overcoming rough terrain and a flat tire, Southern California off-road racer Casey Currie took the lead Tuesday in his classification at the famed Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.

The 12-stage race ranks among the toughest in all of motor sports, with motorcycles, cars and trucks navigating wilderness terrain in harsh conditions.

Tuesday’s third segment began at sea level and climbed to about 5,000 feet before descending in a long loop. Currie and co-driver Sean Berriman, piloting a high-tech dune buggy in the side-by-side class, finished with a slim lead over teams from Chile and Spain.

Corona native Casey Currie, and hundreds of others, will be driving into the unknown when the Dakar Rally starts in Saudi Arabia for the first time.


“It was a killer day,” Currie said by email. “In the beginning it was rocky and up a crazy mountain and then we got in these epic sand dunes with big berms.”

The Corona racer pushed into the lead at about 200 miles when he hit trouble with the blowout but was able to recover.

After several days along the Red Sea, the rally will move inland to the city of Al Ula for the 417-mile fourth stage. No American has ever won a title in any category at Dakar.

“It’s pretty crazy that only in my second year I feel like we have a chance at winning this thing,” said Currie, who finished fourth in his first attempt last year. “We just need to keep pushing and do what we’re doing.”