Dakar 2022, Stage 7: Loeb wins to cut into Al-Attiyah's advantage
Sebastien Loeb claimed his second stage victory of the 2022 Dakar Rally on Sunday to reduce the deficit to Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah in the overall standings.
Having dropped to third in the general classification after two navigational errors on Friday, Loeb re-established himself as Al-Attiyah’s closest competitor with a commanding stage victory as the rally resumed with a 402km test from Riyadh to Al Dawadimi.
The Prodrive/Bahrain team driver locked horns with Audi’s Carlos Sainz at the beginning of the stage, trailing his former WRC teammate by just four seconds 121km into the day’s competitive running.
However, by the next waypoint he was more than three minutes ahead, eventually clinching a 16th Dakar stage win by an impressive margin of 5m26s as Al-Attiyah jumped Sainz to finish second in the day's order.
The Qatari driver was never in the hunt for victory, dropping nearly seven minutes behind Loeb at one point, but clawed back some of the lost time to finish right behind his nearest rival.
It was a strong day for Audi and its electric RS Q e-tron challenger with Stephane Peterhansel ending up fourth behind teammate Sainz, 9m40s off the pace of Loeb, and Mattias Ekstrom also bagging a place inside the top 10 in eighth.
They were separated by the three Overdrive-run Toyota entries, led by Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi. Nani Roma was classified ninth in the second Prodrive car, while Vladimir Vasilyev propped up the top 10 in his self-run BMW X5.
In the general classification, Al-Attiyah’s lead has been cut down to 44m59s by Loeb with the final five stages to run, with Al Rajhi now the only other driver within an hour of the three-time Dakar champion.
Al Rajhi’s teammate Lucio Alvarez sits fourth, while Jakub Przygonski continues to hold a place inside the top five for X-raid Mini.
Audi’s top challenger Ekstrom is now on the cusp of the top 10 in 12th, while Sainz has jumped to 18th in the provisional order.
Overall classification after Stage 7:
|3||205||Yazeed Al Rajhi||TOYOTA||24:45:53||+00:53:31||00:00:35|
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