Dakar 2023: Al-Attiyah claims fifth career win, Loeb shines in second

Nasser Al-Attiyah became a five-time winner of the Dakar Rally with an emphatic triumph in Saudi Arabia, cementing his claim as one of the greatest cross-country drivers of all-time.

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In another characteristic display from the Qatari driver, Al-Attiyah switched to a conservative approach once all his rivals had fallen by the wayside, playing the long-game instead of going all-out for individual stage honours.

Finishing a safe eighth on the final 136km test between Al-Hofuf and Dammam on Sunday, the Toyota star took the overall honours by 1hr20m49s in what was one of the most one-sided contests in the recent history of the Dakar Rally.

The result puts him second on the list of drivers with most Dakar wins in the cars category, just three more victories behind record holder Stephane Peterhansel.

Although Al-Attiyah was still the outright favourite going into the 45th edition of Dakar, held on a longer 14-stage route from the west to the east coast of Saudi Arabia, there was genuine belief that drivers from Audi and the Prodrive-run Bahrain Raid Xtreme team would be able to put up a serious challenge to the Toyota ace.

Victories in Prologue and the opening stage for Audi indicated that a proper multi-way fight was on the cards, but the German manufacturer’s challenge crumbled spectacularly over the following days, with Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz Sr eventually retiring from the rally-raid.

Peterhansel was the first to withdraw from the event when his car plunged from a height of six metres on Stage 6, with his co-driver Edouard Boulanger breaking a vertebra in the incident.

Sainz retired three stages later with his own crash while tackling a dune, but by that time he had already fallen out of contention after encountering mechanical problems on day 2 and a repeat of Peterhansel’s incident at the same section on Stage 6.

BRX’s star driver Sebastien Loeb too was out of running by this point of the rally, having encountered multiple punctures and a roll in the opening days of the event.

This meant that Al-Attiyah was already an hour clear of the opposition by the time he claimed what was his third and last stage win of 2023 on Stage 6, allowing him to take his foot off the throttle in the second week of the rally and cruise to a comfortable outright victory.

#200 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota: Nasser Al-Attiyah

#200 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota: Nasser Al-Attiyah

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The star of the second week of the rally was World Rally legend Loeb, who pulled off a remarkable recovery drive after his early troubles to win a record six stages in a row and haul himself up to second position.

However, the result still fell short of the Frenchman’s expectations, meaning he will have to wait until at least 2024 to finally add a Dakar win to his list of nine titles in the World Rally Championship.

Third place in the overall standings went to Lucas Moraes, who surprised everyone on his maiden appearance in Dakar with a trouble-free run in his customer Hilux.

Two more drivers from the Toyota stable rounded off the top five in what was one of the strongest showings from the Japanese manufacturer, with factory drivers Giniel de Villiers and Henk Lategan finishing fourth and fifth respectively - separated by just seven minutes at the finish.

Another Toyota driver, Overdrive’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, also impressed on his home turf with victory on Stage 7, but problems in Stage 9 left him out of running for a spot inside the top 10.

Martin Prokop was classified sixth for Benzina ahead of Overdrive’s Juan Cruz Yacopini, Wei Han (Hanwei) and X-Raid Mini’s Sebastian Halpern.

Driving the same Prodrive Hunter as Loeb, GCK Motorsport driver Guerlain Chicherit bagged victories on Stage 3 as well as the rally-ending Stage 14 on Sunday to round off the overall top 10.

Two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom was eventually able to finish in 13th place in the sole surviving Audi, recovering from his own set of problems that had left him out of contention for victory in Dakar after an encouraging first-place finish in the Prologue.

Provisional classification (Top 10):




Time / gap


Nasser Al-Attiyah




Sebastien Loeb




Locas Moraes




Giniel de Villiers




Henk Lategan




Martin Prokop




Juan Cruz Yacopini




Wei Han




Sebastian Halpern




Guerlain Chicherit




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