Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah retains a hefty lead as Dakar enters second week

Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah retains a hefty lead as Dakar enters second week
2 min read
Qatari driver Nasser Al Attiyah has moved ahead in his bid to secure victory at the 2022 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
Nasser Al Attiyah leads second place Loeb by 45 minutes [Getty]

Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah stayed comfortably ahead in the Dakar Rally as Sebastien Loeb moved back into second place with a stage victory at the start of week two in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Loeb's second stage win of 2022 left France's nine times world rally champion, driving for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team, some 45 minutes adrift of his factory Toyota rival in the car category with five stages to go.

Al Attiyah, chasing his fourth Dakar title in the desert dunes, was second in the 402km timed seventh stage from the capital Riyadh west to Al Dawadimi but more than five minutes slower than Loeb.

"The second week of the Dakar is another race... today from the beginning we were not pushing but in the last part we pushed a little bit just to see," said the Qatari, runner-up last year to French Dakar great Stephane Peterhansel.

Loeb said he had engine problems in the last 50km, costing him precious time.

"There is no strategy...we'll do our race, try and attack and see what happens in the end," he said.

Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren took the overall lead in the motorcycles from Britain's Sam Sunderland, who fell back to fourth and some five-and-a-half minutes off the pace after finishing 28th.

Chilean rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo won the stage on a Honda.

Australian Daniel Sanders, Sunderland's GasGas team mate who won the first and sixth stages, was taken to hospital after crashing and injuring his left arm on the way to a timed stage he had been due to lead off in.

"It was a bit of a rough day. It started out bad for Sanders with a crash in the liaison and then the stage was really, really difficult with the navigation," said Sunderland.

"We still have so many long days in front of us and I'm sure there'll be some more opportunities to attack, to recuperate some time."

Russian Dmitry Sotnikov led the truck category and Frenchman Alexandre Giroud the quadbikes.

The rally ends in Jeddah on Friday.