Sports Dakar 2022, Stage 11: Sainz fastest, Al-Attiyah inches closer to win

17:14  13 january  2022
17:14  13 january  2022 Source:   autosport.com

Dakar 2022, Stage 2: Loeb wins as Al-Attiyah holds overall lead

  Dakar 2022, Stage 2: Loeb wins as Al-Attiyah holds overall lead Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb claimed victory in the second stage of the Dakar Rally to cut the gap to overnight leader Nasser Al-Attiyah.The Frenchman built a 12-second lead over Toyota driver Al-Attiyah by the first checkpoint and gradually extended his advantage thereafter, finishing the stage 3m28s clear of the three-time Dakar champion.

Sainz was never threatened in the 346km loop near Bisha since he grabbed the lead at the third waypoint from Overdrive’s Lucio Alvarez - the Spaniard successfully tackling the soft dunes towards the end of the stage en route to a comfortable 3m10s victory.

This was Sainz’s second stage win in the Dakar this year and the fourth for Audi’s new hybrid RS Q e-tron contender.

The result marked the continuation of Audi’s strong run in the second week of the rally, with the German manufacturer having now won three of the five stages since the rest day on Saturday - with all its three drivers scoring one victory apiece.

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Sainz’s former World Rally Championship team-mate Sebastien Loeb initially emerged as his closest rival at the end of the day, the Frenchman putting on another solid performance in his Prodrive-run BRX to finish second.

Loeb had gained just over four minutes on his title rival Al-Attiyah, who had a subdued run to eighth in his factory Toyota Hilux and two places behind team-mate Giniel de Villiers, but the French driver has been hit with a five-minute penalty for speeding in a control zone, pushing the gap to Al-Attiyah back up to 33 minutes.

It leaves the Qatari driver with a whopping 33m19s advantage heading into the short final stage to Jeddah on Friday, putting him in a prime position to seal a fourth Dakar win.

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Al-Attiyah and Toyota last scored a Dakar win together in 2019.

#201 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthieu Baumel © Autosport.com #201 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthieu Baumel

#201 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthieu Baumel

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Behind stage winner Sainz, Alvarez finished just over three minutes off the pace in second place following Loeb's penalty, with Mattias Ekstrom (Audi) and Nani Roma (Prodrive) not far behind in third and fourth respectively.

Stephane Peterhansel lost six minutes early in the day and finished the stage with roughly the same margin to team-mate Sainz, ending up sixth behind de Villiers in the Toyota.

In the overall standings, Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi has slipped over an hour behind Al-Attiyah in third, while a tough outing for X-raid Mini driver Jakub Przygonski has elevated Orlando Terranova (Prodrive) and de Villiers to fourth and fifth respectively.

Dakar, the list of victims extends

 Dakar, the list of victims extends © provided by Sports.co.uk Accidents are part of the vagaries of motorsport, including rally-raid. This is one of the sad hazards of mechanical sport. The Dakar was again berupted this Friday, for the last day of race, with the death of a mechanic during a car accident, in a linkage route. The victim is a member of Team PH Sport, French Quentin Lavalée, who was 20 years old.

Ekstrom moves up a place to ninth overall, aided by a difficult day for another X-raid driver Sebastian Halpern.

Overall standings after Stage 11:

1Nasser Al-AttiyahTOYOTA36:49:51 00:05:00
2Sebastien LoebPRODRIVE37:23:10+00:33:1900:05:00
3Yazeed Al RajhiTOYOTA37:53:34+01:03:4300:00:35
4Orlando TerranovaPRODRIVE38:21:20+01:31:2900:13:00
5Giniel de VilliersTOYOTA38:34:02+01:44:1100:05:00
6Jakub PrzygonskiMINI38:41:48+01:51:5700:00:00
7Vladimir VasilyevBMW38:49:40+01:59:4900:05:00
8Mathieu SerradoriCENTURY39:24:10+02:34:1900:15:00
9Mattias EkstromAUDI39:29:48+02:39:5700:17:00
10Sebastian HalpernMINI39:29:51+02:40:0000:05:00

Breen's "confidence still high" after WRC testing crash .
Craig Breen says his confidence is “still high” heading into next weekend’s 2022 World Rally Championship season opener following a heavy crash in testing.Luckily Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle were able to escape from the cockpit unhurt and M-Sport was able to retrieve the car from the mountainside with a crane and complete an overnight repair.

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