Corona’s Casey Currie holds on to lead at Dakar Rally

Driver Casey Currie and co-driver Sean Berriman race their Can-Am during Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally.
(Bernat Armangu / Associated Press)

On an otherwise somber Monday at the Dakar Rally — racers mourning the death of a motorcyclist — Casey Currie navigated a dune-filled stretch of Saudi Arabia to finish with a 15-minute lead in the side-by-side vehicle class.

Currie, an off-road racer from Corona, is trying to become the first American to win in any class at the Dakar.

The 12-day “rally raid,” which also includes cars and trucks, ranks among the toughest events in all of motor sports. It is now two-thirds complete after the eighth stage, a 445-mile loop that began and ended in Wadi Al-Dawasir.

Currie and his co-driver, Sean Berriman, lost time replacing a broken axle and, later, an engine belt on the course. They still maintain a lead over teams from Chile and Russia.


“It’s tough but we’re going to keep pushing,” Currie said.

Second-place driver Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez of Chile said: “The top three positions are very close. Every day if I can avoid having too many problems or anything broken on my car then I think it’s possible to win.”

Southern California off-road racer Casey Currie took the lead Tuesday in his classification at the famed Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.

The motorcycle and quad portion of Monday’s stage was canceled in honor of Paulo Goncalves, a Portuguese rider who crashed on the course Sunday. Medical personnel were flown by helicopter to the site of the accident and found the 40-year-old unconscious.

“Following resuscitation efforts in situ, the competitor was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead,” race officials said.

The Dakar Rally has a long, controversial history of fatalities, with dozens of racers killed in crashes and spectators struck on the roadside.

The event now moves to a 550-mile stage that stretches through oil-rich territory to the village of Haradh.