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Dakar Rally: Sainz takes lead as Al-Attiyah faces setback in Saudi desert

Posted : 13 January 2024

Audi's Carlos Sainz took the lead in the Dakar Rally on Friday, completing the 549km sixth stage with a 20-minute and 21-second advantage over teammate Mattias Ekstrom. Sebastien Loeb secured his second stage win, finishing third overall, nine minutes behind Sainz.


Sainz, a three-time Dakar winner, expressed satisfaction but acknowledged the long journey ahead in the Saudi Arabian desert. Meanwhile, defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah faced steering issues, dropping to 17th place and ending his hopes of a third consecutive win.


Nine-time world rally champion Loeb, driving for Bahrain Raid Xtreme, won the stage in the Empty Quarter, securing a two-minute lead over Sainz. Al-Attiyah, experiencing steering problems after 530km, waited for assistance, ultimately falling to 17th place, two hours and 40 minutes behind the leader. Yazeed Al-Rajhi, the Saudi home favorite, withdrew after a crash. Adrien Van Beveren won the motorcycle stage, and Honda's Ricky Brabec claimed the overall lead from Ross Branch.


In the truck category, Czech driver Martin Macik led by over an hour, while defending champion Janus van Kasteren faced a setback, losing two-and-a-half hours due to mechanical troubles. Yasir Seaidan of Saudi Arabia took the lead in the SSV category, surpassing American Sara Price. Saturday marks a rest day in Riyadh before the final week of the Dakar Rally, concluding in Yanbu on January 19.


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