Al-Attiyah’s caution succeeds on tricky Dakar 2nd stage

January 2, 2023 GMT

ALULA, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah thrived by being cautious as many of his rivals suffered on a tricky second stage of the Dakar Rally in northwest Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Al-Attiyah won the special heading inland from the Red Sea to AlUla in five hours and gained more than five minutes on overall leader Carlos Sainz.

French driver Mathieu Serradori deliberately under-inflated his tires for the 430-kilometer stony track through canyons, and climbed in the overall standings from 17th to third. He was 25 minutes off the pace.

“This ... tastes like a stage victory,” Serradori said.

But Sebastien Loeb, who started the day second overall, Guerlain Chicherit, fourth, and Orlando Terranova, fifth, ran out of spare wheels when they suffered three punctures each and had to nurse their cars home.

Loeb, the runner-up last year, dropped 1 hour, 20 minutes, Chicherit 3 1/2 hours, and Terranova more than an hour.


“The whole special was hell,” Loeb said. “I don’t think about (the overall standings) anymore.”

Stephane Peterhansel, the Dakar’s most successful racer, endured two slow punctures in the rear in the early going to finish the stage 32 minutes behind and 36 minutes behind overall.

“It was just survival,” the Frenchman said.

Al-Attiyah overcame an early puncture to hang with the leaders, and finished strong in the closing dunes to overhaul Erik van Loon by 14 seconds for his 45th stage win.

Van Loon started 41st and was rapt to finish second. Sainz was third.

American rider Mason Klein won the motorbike stage and became the first privateer to top the podium in seven years.

Even with a two-minute penalty for speeding, Klein beat Sebastian Buhler by more than a minute. Skyler Howes, another American, was third.

Daniel Sanders, coming back from a broken elbow in last year’s race, led for most of the stage but deliberately slowed down at the end so he won’t have to open the way on Tuesday.

In a tight field overall, Klein led two-time champion Toby Price, and Joan Barreda was third, two minutes back.


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