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.
Driving for the Prodrive-run Bahrain Raid Xtreme team, Loeb led from start to finish in the 338km special between Ha'il and Al Artawiyah, clinching his 15th stage win in Dakar - and the first since 2019.
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.
The result helped Loeb make a dent into Al-Attiyah's lead in the general classifications, although the Qatari driver still enjoys a healthy 9m16s cushion heading into Tuesday's 255km stage from Al Artawiyah to Al Qaysumah.
Audi mounted a strong comeback in Stage 2 after a disastrous outing for its three RS Q e-trons on Sunday, with Carlos Sainz leading the charge for the German manufacturer in third.
Having lost over two hours in Stage 1 with navigational troubles, the three-time Dakar champion finished just 5m52s off the pace of Loeb on Monday, showcasing the raw pace of Audi's all-new electric challenger.
Stephane Peterhansel backed up the speed of his teammate Sainz by finishing fourth, a further two minutes adrift of the leaders, although a 16-hour penalty for not finishing Stage 1 means he is no longer in the running for a record-extending 15th Dakar win.
Further back, Nani Roma finished fifth in the second of the three BRX entries, while Overdrive driver Yazeed Al Rajhi led factory Toyota pairing Henk Lategan and Giniel de Villiers in sixth place.
Two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom (Audi) also rebounded from a troubled first stage to finish ninth, while Overdrive driver Bernhard Ten Brinke made it five Hilux T1+ cars inside the top-10.
Lucio Alvarez - also from Overdrive - finished 11th to move up to third in the overall standings, albeit over 40 minutes down on outright leader Al-Attiyah.
De Villiers sits fourth in the general classification ahead of the VRT BMW of Vladimir Vasilyev, with Orlen Ford driver Martin Prokop slipping to sixth place.
Despite an improved showing on Monday, none of the Audis have managed to break inside the top 20, with Mattias Ekstrom provisionally placed 26th in the standings and Sainz further behind in 29th place.
Overall standings after Stage 2:
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Dakar 2022, Stage 2: Barreda wins, Sunderland takes overall lead
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