Al-Attiyah extends Dakar lead as Loeb wins Stage 4

Sebastien Loeb won Dakar Stage 4

Sebastien Loeb won Dakar Stage 4

Nasser Al-Attiyah has extended his overall Dakar Rally lead in the Cars as Sebastien Loeb picked up his first stage win of the 2023 event despite a power steering failure.

Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Toyota) retains second overall after Stage 4, 18:18s behind Al-Attiyah and 34 seconds ahead of Stephane Peterhansel, with Carlos Sainz fourth at 32:55s off the pace.

Peterhansel was quickest for the first 282km of the 425km loop stage around Ha’il in his Audi RS Q e-tron, but Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Loeb was never much more than a minute in arrears.

It was then that the latter took over the stage lead, which he held onto despite losing power steering in his Prodrive Hunter.

“We tried to push really hard on this stage. We went on full attack all the time,” said Loeb.

“We lost the power steering 20km from the end, so we had to finish the stage very slowly.

“I couldn’t keep the car on the tracks. We spun out at one point because I couldn’t turn the steering wheel.

“It was very difficult to finish the stage, but at the end we still have the best time, so it’s better than nothing.”

The nine-time World Rally Champion’s mood was probably not helped by the fact that the stage win only got him back to 1:33:43s behind the lead in the overall classification after suffering three punctures on Stage 2.

Behind Peterhansel, Sainz made it two factory Audis in the top three although the Spaniard is similarly 32:55s behind Al-Attiyah in fourth overall thanks to his nightmare on Stage 3.

Al-Attiyah himself was fourth-quickest on the stage in a Toyota Gazoo Racing entry, ahead of fellow Hilux driver Al Rajhi.

“There was a lot of camel grass and off-piste, so it wasn’t easy,” said the former.

“We had one flat tyre and then we tried to push. I don’t know what the result will be, but I think it’s a good one for us.

“We’ve been really very fast. We’ve made no mistakes at all and Mathieu [Baumel] navigated well. We are quite happy.”

The Qatari added, “The Audi is fast in the sand, but we are quite happy to finish day four and we will see what we can do the next day.

“The second week will be more interesting and we are quite happy.”

Surprise Stage 3 winner Guerlain Chicherit (GCK Motorsport) and Mathieu Serradori (Century Factory Racing) were hamstrung by mechanical problems, while Orlando Terranova (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) returned to the bivouac early on.

Stage 5 is another loop around Ha’il, with more sand and dunes for drivers to negotiate.

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CLICK HERE for extended highlights of Stage 4

Overall classification: Cars Top 10

Pos Driver Co-driver Team Time/Gap
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah Mathieu Baumel Toyota Gazoo Racing 16:34:13
2 Yazeed Al Rajhi Dirk von Zitzewitz Overdrive Racing +0:18:18
3 Stéphane Peterhansel Edouard Boulanger Team Audi Sport +0:18:52
4 Carlos Sainz Lucas Cruz Team Audi Sport +0:32:55
5 Henk Lategan Brett Cummings Toyota Gazoo Racing +0:45:25
6 Lucas Moraes Timo Gottschalk Overdrive Racing +0:45:27
7 Giniel De Villiers Dennis Murphy Toyota Gazoo Racing +0:48:13
8 Mattias Ekstrom Emil Bergkvist Team Audi Sport +0:50:00
9 Martin Prokop Viktor Chytka Orlen Benzina Team +1:14:43
10 Erik Van Loon Sébastien Delaunay Overdrive Racing +1:15:40
14 Sebastien Loeb Fabian Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme +1:33:43

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