Loeb nibbles at lead after 3rd straight Dakar stage win
SHAYBAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Sebastien Loeb won a third successive stage of the Dakar Rally and only nibbled at Nasser Al-Attiyah’s overall lead in southeast Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Al-Attiyah remained more than 1 hour, 20 minutes ahead of the dwindling field after cruising to fourth place on the 10th stage. It was a 114-kilometer sprint into the Empty Quarter dunes on the border with the United Arab Emirates.
The stage was a warmup for a grueling marathon over the next two days, when competitors will be without service trucks or mechanics at the bivouac.
Loeb won his rally-leading fourth stage in less than two hours, Mattias Ekstrom was three minutes behind, and Lucas Moraes five minutes back.
Vaidotas Zala, second on Tuesday, was on Loeb’s tail until he broke down in the 44th kilometer and was stalled for four hours.
Moraes was still second overall, and Loeb 16 minutes behind him.
Kevin Benavides, the 2021 champion, moved into the motorbike lead after finishing a minute behind stage winner Ross Branch of Botswana.
Branch won his second stage on a Hero, surfing the dunes 21 seconds ahead of Adrian van Beveren, and 30 seconds up on Michael Docherty of South Africa.
Skyler Howes and Toby Price, who started the day first and second in the general rankings, sat back more than seven minutes off the pace. They dropped to second and third, within two minutes of Benavides.
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