Al-Attiyah wins Dakar Stage 2 as Loeb drops an hour

Nasser Al-Attiyah has won Dakar Stage 2

Nasser Al-Attiyah has won Dakar Stage 2. Picture: Frederic Le Floc’h/DPPI/ASO

Nasser Al-Attiyah has cut Carlos Sainz’s overall lead with victory on Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally as Sebastien Loeb lost more than an hour due to punctures.

Al-Attiyah is now just 2:12s away from the top in the Cars classification while Loeb sits 31st overall at 1:21:43s behind Sainz after copping three punctures in the rocky terrain between the Sea Camp and Al Ula.

Toyota Hiluxes led at every waypoint, initially Lionel Baud and then his Overdrive Racing team-mate Erik van Loon, who missed Dakar 2022 due to a positive COVID test.

Van Loon had a 1:34s margin over Al-Attiyah at Kilometre 386 but then the factory driver hit the front and beat the Dutchman to stage honours by 14 seconds after 430km.

Sainz, who opened the road in the Cars, finished 5:03s slower in his Audi RS Q e-tron, with Mathieu Serradori (Century Racing) and Baud rounding out the stage top five.

Loeb ran out of spare tyres for his Prodrive Hunter, haemorrhaging almost an hour between the Kilometre 269 and Kilometre 304 waypoints alone.

“It was a really bad day for us,” said the Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver.

“We lost a lot of time with three punctures.

“For me, there was absolutely no pleasure in the driving. It was really bad with a lot of stones.

“It was just a question of going very slow and trying to avoid a puncture. That was the only goal of the stage and in the end, we had three.

“We had to try and repair one of the tyres and it took us a long time.”

Already, Sainz and Al-Attiyah, who collectively boast four of the last five Dakar crowns, have taken a stranglehold on the 2023 event given the latter is 22 minutes head of third placed Serradori in the overall classification.

Stephane Peterhansel, in the second of the Audis, is 36 minutes in arrears in eighth position overall after dropping nearly 10 minutes in the first 105km of Stage 2.

Team-mate Mattias Ekstrom, who had already been hit with a 15-minute penalty for missing a waypoint on Stage 1, lost more than half an hour more to be 15th overall, 48 minutes behind Sainz.

Stage 3 takes the field to Ha’il, with more canyons on the cards.

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Overall classification: Cars Top 10

Pos Driver Co-driver Team Time/Gap
1 Carlos Sainz Lucas Cruz Team Audi Sport 08:34:26
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah Mathieu Baumel Toyota Gazoo Racing +0:02:12
3 Mathieu Serradori Loic Minaudier Century Racing Factory Team +0:24:55
4 Simon Vitse Frederic Lefebvre MD Rally +0:25:40
5 Giniel De Villiers Dennis Murphy Toyota Gazoo Racing +0:26:38
6 Yazeed Al Rajhi Dirk von Zitzewitz Overdrive Racing +0:27:59
7 Martin Prokop Viktor Chytka Orlen Benzina Team +0:35:24
8 Stéphane Peterhansel Edouard Boulanger Team Audi Sport +0:36:08
9 Brian Baragwanath Leonard Cremer Century Racing Factory Team +0:39:13
10 Henk Lategan Brett Cummings Toyota Gazoo Racing +0:39:52
15 Mattias Ekstrom Emil Bergkvist Team Audi Sport +0:48:11
31 Sebastien Loeb Fabian Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme +1:21:43

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