Qatar’s defending champion Nasser al-Attiyah won the second stage of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia on Monday to move his Toyota into second place overall behind three-times winner Carlos Sainz.
Sunday’s opening stage winner Sainz finished third for Audi on the 430km run from the Red Sea over the mountains to AlUla to stretch his overall lead to two minutes and 12 seconds.
The stage win was the 45th of four times overall winner al-Attiyah’s career and enabled him to claw back five minutes from Spaniard Sainz and set up another duel between the old rivals.
Dutch driver Erik Van Loon was second on the rocky stage for Overdrive Racing.
Nine-times world rally champion Sebastien Loeb, who was second overnight for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team, was a big loser on the stage after punctures cost the Frenchman more than an hour and probably his hopes of victory.
“It was a really bad day for us, we lost a lot of time with three punctures” said Loeb, who had to slow after being left without a spare tire and now trails Sainz by an hour and 20 minutes.
“For me it was absolutely no pleasure to drive. The stage was really bad, a lot of stones.
“It was just a question of going very slow trying to avoid a puncture. That was the only goal of the stage and finally we had three. We had to try to repair one tire and it took us a long time.”
Sainz’s Audi team mates Stephane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekstrom were eighth and 15th overall respectively with the former, a 14-times Dakar winner on two wheels and four, 36 minutes off the lead.
In the motorcycle category, 21-year-old KTM rider Mason Klien of the US took the lead one minute and 41 seconds ahead of Australian Toby Price, also on a KTM.
Tuesday’s third stage is 447km from AlUla to Ha’il.
Early ticket packages for F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2023 go on saleEarly ticket packages for the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia’s coastal city of Jeddah go on sale, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on ... Entertainment
Saudi Arabia’s F1 Grand Prix to return to Jeddah in March 2023The Formula One Grand Prix is set to return to Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah - home of the world’s fastest street circuit – in March 2023, organizers have ... Gulf