Al-Attiyah dominating Dakar as Audi capitulates on Stage 6

Audi lost its top two entries on a disastrous Dakar Stage 6

Audi lost its top two entries on a disastrous Dakar Stage 6. Picture: ASO/DPPI/Eric Vargiolu

Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah now leads the Dakar Rally by over an hour as Audi lost at least one and possibly two of its contenders from the event on Stage 6.

Separate incidents on the same dune, 212km into the Ha’il to Riyadh special, accounted for Stephane Peterhansel’s and Carlos Sainz’s already fading hopes of another Dakar victory.

Peterhansel’s navigator, Edouard Boulanger, was hospitalised due to back pain after a hard landing off the dune although Team Audi Sport reports that “no permanent damage is expected.”

Sainz’s RS Q e-tron suffered suspension damage and while a support vehicle was dispatched for repairs, he has still not made the stage finish although neither of those two Audis have been officially added to the withdrawal list just yet.

The calamities leave an all-Hilux top four in the overall classification, headed up by Al-Attiyah at a margin of 1:06:50s over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Henk Lategan, then Overdrive Racing’s Lucas Moraes and the other factory entry of Giniel De Villiers.

The surviving factory Audi of Mattias Ekstrom is the best of the rest at 1:46:55s off the pace or 2:17s behind De Villiers, with Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sebastien Loeb sixth overall.

Stage 6 was shortened as Dakar organisers modified the route due to flooding at a bivouac, with Al-Attiyah quickest initially before Peterhansel edged ahead of him, Sainz, Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Racing), and Loeb.

The same dune caught out both Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz

The same dune caught out both Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz. Picture: ASO/DPPI/Eric Vargiolu

Peterhansel continued to set the pace until the incident which brought a premature end to his day, after which Al-Attiyah won the stage by 3:29s over Loeb.

However, it was not all smooth sailing for the Qatari who carries the #200 plate after winning Dakar 2022.

“It was a very tough stage, not easy,” said Al-Attiyah.

“We really pushed a lot but for the last 40km we broke the steering pump, so we didn’t have any steering.

“We had a lot of oil coming out, but we’ll try to repair it now and then we’ll go to Riyadh.”

Al Rajhi looked on for a solid result but dropped four hours late in the stage and has plummeted from third overall to 28th at nearly five-and-a-half hours away from top spot.

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Overall classification: Cars Top 10

Pos Driver Co-driver Team Time/Gap
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah Mathieu Baumel Toyota Gazoo Racing 24:00:48
2 Henk Lategan Brett Cummings Toyota Gazoo Racing +1:06:50
3 Lucas Moraes Timo Gottschalk Overdrive Racing +1:13:19
4 Giniel De Villiers Dennis Murphy Toyota Gazoo Racing +1:44:38
5 Mattias Ekstrom Emil Bergkvist Team Audi Sport +1:46:55
6 Sebastien Loeb Fabian Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme +1:57:10
7 Romain Dumas Max Delfino Rebellion Racing +2:13:07
8 Martin Prokop Viktor Chytka Orlen Benzina Team +2:13:30
9 Brian Baragwanath Leonard Cremer Century Racing Factory Team +2:20:33
10 Wei Han Ma Li Hanwei Motorsport Team +2:49:27

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