Nasser Al-Attiyah wins his fourth Dakar Rally in the Saudi desert | sports
Nasser Al-Attiyah triumphs again. After a Dakar Rally in which he made few mistakes, without incident or major setbacks, the 51-year-old Qatari won his fourth Touareg this Friday, after reaching the finish line in Jeddah in 19th position, almost eight minutes behind the winner, his teammate. of team at Toyota Gazzo Racing, Henk Lategan. His margin at the front of the classification was so much, more than half an hour, that he could afford to do that last short stage, of just 164 kilometers, without pressing too much on the accelerator.
It does so in the Saudi desert for the first time after the recent successes of Carlos Sainz and Stéphane Peterhansel in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Those have been the three proper names of the Dakar Rally in the car category in recent years. And so it continues, despite the good performance of French Sebastien Loeb in this edition. The former world rally champion ended up becoming Al-Attiyah’s only rival after the first stage of the race eliminated the other two from the equation with one stroke of the pen. While the Qatari, magnificent at the wheel of his Toyota, a car he has known for years, and very well guided by his co-driver Matthieu Baumel, with whom he understands wonderfully and works throughout the year, passed the first special timed without Greater difficulties, many of his opponents were lost between tracks, motorcycle ruts in the wrong direction and the nervousness of knowing oneself wasting time at the first changes.
One of those pilots who didn’t seem to even know where they were was Carlos Sainz. The Madrilenian lost two hours in one of the most difficult navigation points of that first stage. And that sentenced his Dakar. He complained bitterly upon reaching the bivouac. Not only was he lost. It had been done by many pilots before and after him, so he argued that the road book was not well done and led to confusion. “We can’t all be that stupid,” he argued. It happened, however, that others, such as Al-Attiyah, followed the correct route. Almost without ruffling.
Baumel explained it the best he could. “I understand that there are people who complain, but when you spend more than two hours in the same place, the error does not come from the road book but from the crew. For me, there is nothing more to say. Okay, you have to go a little slower, if you don’t miss all the crosses, but we have opened many days and we have not been the fastest, but we have not made any mistakes either, “he told digital Motorsport.
And he added: “The first day, the first bike made no mistakes. The error came from the bike behind us, and we know they are not the best riders. And the problem is that the first car was following the wrong bike lane. And when I got there, I saw a lot of tracks going to the right, some cars turning, and we knew that was not the route, so we started thinking about the solution and the road book was clear at this point. The indication was to follow the main track, so I told Nasser to go back to the sandy track we were on ”. There were already four or five motorcycle tracks. And they followed them. In the same way that Loeb (Prodrive) was also hooked to his wheel, which finished second that day, less than 13 minutes. And that he has not detached himself from the shadow of Al-Attiyah since then. The Dakar finished second, less than 28 minutes away. Third finished the Saudi Yazeed Al Rajhi, one hour behind the Qatari.
The day, the first of 12, with departure and final destination in Jeddah, one of the largest cities in Saudi Arabia, on the shores of the Red Sea, concluded the Dakar. Not only because of the time lost by Sainz, who went on to win two stages in a completely new hybrid Audi, powered exclusively by electric power, the same as his teammate Peterhansel. But, also, because the Frenchman was out of the race in that first timed session. He had an accident and in the blow tore off the entire rear transmission of his car. Putting the vehicle back together and putting that wheel back in place left him completely out of the game. If Sainz finished the Dakar in ninth place three and a half hours behind the winner, Peterhansel finished 19th, more than 68 hours behind, after all he lost and the penalties accumulated in his re-entry into the race.
Since then, there was no one, not even Loeb, who could really pressure and make Al-Attiyah nervous. A very fast pilot with magnificent navigation knowledge who has not needed to run more than necessary. The demands of his rivals were minimal. And the mistakes made by the Qatari in those twelve stages as well.
Dakar Rally Classification.
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