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Dakar 2023: Al-Attiyah closes in on Sainz with stage 2 win, Loeb suffers punctures

Dakar 2023: Al-Attiyah closes in on Sainz with stage 2 win, Loeb suffers punctures

Toyota’s Al-Attiyah overturned a 1m34 deficit over Erik van Loon on the final leg of the 430km stage from Sea Camp to Alula, the fourth longest stage of the 2023 Dakar, to win Monday’s contest by 14 seconds on the Overdrive competitor.

The stage victory promoted the Qatari driver and co-driver Mathieu Baume in second place, 2m12s behind the Audi Sainz in the general classification.

Sainz was the first on the course after his maiden stage win yesterday and faced arguably the toughest conditions leading the peloton from sandy shores through rock-covered mountains and narrow trails.

The three-time Dakar Rally winner took third place on the stage behind Al-Attiyah and van Loon, ending the day having conceded 5m05s to Al-Attiyah.

But Loeb was the biggest loser of the day, as three punctures saw the Bahrain Raid Xtreme rider bleed time to his rivals. The nine-time World Rally Championship title winner lost 1h26m38s on stage two at Al-Attiyah to drop him from second place outside the top 30.

“It was a very bad day for us. We lost a lot of time with three punctures,” said Loeb.

“For me, there was absolutely no fun in driving. It was really bad with a lot of rocks.

“It was just a matter of going really slow and trying to avoid a puncture. That was the only goal for the stage and in the end we got three.

#201 Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive: Sebastien Loeb, Fabian Lurquin

#201 Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive: Sebastien Loeb, Fabian Lurquin

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

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

With Audi duo Stephane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekstrom – the latter picking up a 15-minute penalty for missing a waypoint on stage one – also struggling early on, the battle for victory is already looming between Sainz and Al -Attiyah.

The duo are nearly 25 minutes clear of nearest rival Mathieu Serrardori, who is third overall for Century Racing after finishing stage two in fourth place.

Serrardori is just 45 seconds ahead of surprise package Simon Vitse, fourth overall for MD Rally, after a two-minute penalty for Geniel de Villiers restricted the Toyota driver to fifth place overall.

Yazeed Al-Rajhi continued his strong start to the 2023 event in the private Overdrive entry to take sixth place overall, ahead of Orlen Benzina’s Martin Prokop and Audi’s Peterhansel.

Brian Baragwanath for Century and Henk Lategan for Toyota complete the top 10 overall, with stage two star van Loon moving up to 13th.

Ranking after stage 2:

Position

Driver

Auto

Time / gap

1

carlos sainz

Audi

8h34m26s

2

Nasser Al-Attiyah

Toyota

+2m12s

3

Matthew Serradori

Century

+24m55s

4

Simon Vitse

MD Rally

+25m40s

5

Geniel de Villiers

Toyota

+26m38s

6

Yazeed Al-Rajhi

Overdrive

+27m59s

7

Martin Prokop

Orlen Benzina

+35m24s

8

Stephane Peterhansel

Audi

+36m08s

9

Brian Baragwanath

Century

+39m13s

ten

Henk Latgan

Toyota

+39m52s

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Written by EricMbadinga

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