JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Nasser Al-Attiyah wins for the fourth time Dakar Rally title on Friday at Jeddah after taking the lead from the first leg on New Year’s Day.
Al-Attiyah could afford to let closest rival Sebastien Loeb, a former nine-time world champion, beat him by more than 5 minutes on the 12th and final leg from Bisha and still go on to win the race. after more than 27 minutes. The Qataris had previously won the title in 2011, 2015 and 2019.
British racer Sam Sunderland claimed his second Dakar motorcycle title after beating Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla by three and a half minutes, the closest gap since 1994.
But the end of the protest was overshadowed by the death of a support worker from the PH Sport team on the line of communication.
Quentin Lavalée, 20 years old from France, was killed when the car he was driving collided with a local resident vans, the police told the organizers of the Dakar Rally. A passenger traveling with Lavalée, Belgian Maxime Frere, was injured and taken to Jeddah hospital. Lavalee is a master mechanic.
Al-Attiyah was runner-up in the last two Dakars in Saudi Arabia, and focused on rallying over the past year without spending time on sports shooting or sailing. Hindered by the punctures on Dakar, he refined Toyota with bigger tires and suspension and to Saudi Arabia won seven rallies.
His biggest rivals were in trouble early on. Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel lost a rear wheel and three-time champion Carlos Sainz made a bad navigation error. Loeb’s bearing broke and on the day off a week ago, Al-Attiyah had a 50-minute lead.
Loeb desperately chipped the gap in search of his first Dakar title but Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel expertly avoided trouble.
“It was an incredible Dakar for us. The whole race went without a hitch,” said Al-Attiyah. “We opened a gap on day one and have since managed our lead. We’re really happy and I think we’ll start thinking about the next Dakar after one. another week or 10 days.”
Al-Attiyah’s fourth dakar tied him to second place with Ari Vatanen. Peterhansel leads with eight.
Loeb’s second place matches his 2017 results in Argentina.
“We don’t stop attacking, so we don’t regret it,” Loeb said. “Nasser has a lot of experience and is a racer who only fouled once in a blue moon, so he controlled the race to perfection. However, I am still happy because every time we win we win. time for him, it feels great.”
Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi finished third on the first Dakar podium at the eighth attempt.
Sunderland’s preparation was not ideal. Playing for his new team GasGas, he had a bad accident at the Kazakhstan Cycling Championships and took a break from the Morocco Cycling Tournament. However, he took the lead throughout the first week of Dakar and when he was challenged in the second week, timing his victory to perfection.
“I’ve had a pretty tough season, but when you win the Dakar it’s all worth it,” Sunderland said.
Quintanilla finished second in three Dakars competitions.
“It was physically and mentally exhausting. But I’m really satisfied with my performance,” Quintanilla said.
Austrian driver Matthias Walkner, 2018 champion and two-time runner-up, finished third overall for almost seven minutes, he said, “almost feeling like a victory”.
Sunderland’s brother-in-law, Adrien van Beveren of France, is fourth, and Spain’s Joan Barreda is fifth with a shoulder injury.
Mason Klein, 20-year-old American on debut, finished ninth, 13 seconds ahead of two-time winner Toby Price’s Australia.