Al Attiyah wins second stage of Dakar Rally - GulfToday

Al Attiyah wins second stage of Dakar Rally


Toyota's driver Nasser Al Attiyah and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel compete during Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally 2021 in Saudi Arabia on Monday. AFP

Gulf Today Report

Nasser Al Attiyah bounced back to win the second stage of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia on Monday ahead of rivals Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz.

He overcame the disappointment of spurning the chance of getting his campaign off to a winning start in the first stage when Sainz ran away with the honours.


The three-time winner of the Dakar steered through the 457-kilometre long stage from Bisha to Wadi Ad Dawasir in 4hr 03min 14sec to take the victory after reigning champion Sainz won Sunday's opening stage.


"It was a good day," said Attiyah, who is aiming for a seventh Olympic skeet appearance in Tokyo later this year.


"Yesterday we lost a lot of time because we opened the way and it was not really good for us and we didn't take risks.


Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the championship, leads the overall standings with after a stellar finish on both the stages despite missing out the first place finish on either days.


Spaniard Sainz 6min 37sec behind and Attiyah just over nine minutes back.


The Frenchman said he had been stressing about how to avoid getting bogged down in the first sand dunes of this year's Dakar.


"It was the first dunes, but also the car was full of diesel which meant it was really heavy," said Peterhansel, whose 13 Dakar victories came seven times in a car and six on a motorbike.


"So, the priority was not to get stuck. After that, I have to say that we navigated well."


“Today it was a very beautiful stage. The desert was much more open. So, the priority was not to get stuck."


Spain's Joan Barreda took the honours at the second second stage in the motorbike category, pipping American rider and title holder Ricky Brabec, who is also on a Honda.


Brabec has a lot of time to claw back after trailing in almost 20 minutes behind Australian Toby Price in Sunday's first stage after losing his way in the desert terrain.


Barreda, whose victory was his 25th on a Dakar special, said he had had no option but "to push with everything -- I put it all in today."


"I enjoyed this type of stage a lot. It's faster and better for me, better than enduro like it was yesterday," the Spaniard said.


There looks like being a fierce struggle for the title among the lightweight vehicles. Gerard Farrés, second on today’s special, completes the provisional podium in the general standings, only one minute behind Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez.


“The start of the special was difficult for me, driving in the dunes. But then every time it got better, but of course today I'm happy for Armand because, well, how was the navigation today, Armand? – Yeah, today we started with really tricky navigation," said Farres.


Tuesday's third stage sees competitors racing a loop around Wadi Ad Dawasir, the gateway to the Empty Quarter, a vast sand desert that covers much of the southern Arabian Peninsula and given prominence by explorers such as Wilfred Thesiger.


Organisers have promised a "hefty serving of dunes, albeit spread far and wide and in small chains" for the 403km special.

Related articles