Exclusive to Motorsport.com - Red Bull Dakar blog by Tim Sturtridge.
The gloss was taken off Nasser Al-Attiyah's stage win by the retirement of Carlos Sainz
The blow of Carlos Sainz’s retirement was softened by Nasser Al-Attiyah making it five stage wins from a possible six for the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team at the 2013 Dakar.
Nasser and co-pilot Lucas Cruz planned to attack on the 455km timed special stage from Arica to Calama and they executed their plan to perfection. Nasser took full advantage of starting the stage as the seventh car as he tore through the pack on Stage Six.
Nasser finished the stage 8m36s quicker than race leader Stephane Peterhansel and the Qatari is now sitting a mere 1m18s off top spot in the overall rankings. Equally as impressive as Nasser’s fight for the lead is the gap of over forty minutes between his car and South Africa’s Giniel De Villiers in third place.
However, there were no champagne corks popping for the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team at the end of Stage Six due to the retirement of Carlos Sainz and co-driver Timo Gottschalk.
Carlos’ Buggy suffered from engine problems that left the Spaniard unable to finish Stage Six. After a week of ups and downs for Carlos he bowed out of the rally with trademark flair as he was taken off the stage by helicopter.
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “It’s a big blow to our Qatar Red Bull Rally Team for the race to end today for Carlos and Timo. It seems there was a problem with their engine and of course this is something that we will have to investigate with the mechanics. We want to be sure we can avoid the same problem with my car.
“It was great to have Carlos in the race but he just got unlucky today so that is that. We still have one car in this race so I will keep doing my best to bring the Buggy across the finish line in Santiago.
“Despite the problems we had on the stage there are still plenty of positives to take from the day. Lucas and myself won another stage today and we managed to make up over eight minutes on the lead. Tomorrow is a short 200km special stage so I think if we attack from the start we could once again bring home a good result.
Carlos Sainz: “Its a big disappointment for my race to end like this with engine problems. Although my rally is now over I’m proud to have played my part in showing that this Buggy of ours is a serious project.
“With the short period we had to prepare the car I think we have done a good job already. The Qatar Red Bull Rally Team has the potential to improve at future editions of the Dakar and I will discuss my own role within this project with Nasser when he has completed the race. Now I’m outside of the race there’s no more I can do except to keep supporting Nasser from the sidelines.”