Al-Attiyah tops rocky Stage 2 at Dakar

Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Al-Attiyah tops rocky Stage 2 at Dakar

Off Road

Al-Attiyah tops rocky Stage 2 at Dakar

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Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally took competitors over 400 kilometers/250 miles against the clock through a rock garden of dangerous boulders that never seemed to end. Finally, the finish line was found at the Alula bivouac after a full day of ultra-tough racing.

Two stages in, the car race looks to be shaping up as a battle between two of the event’s biggest personalities. Three-time Dakar champion Carlos Sainz still leads the overall standings, despite losing five minutes to defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah on Stage 2. Al-Attiyah was quick to give credit to his co-driver Mathieu Baumel for guiding their Toyota Hilux T1+ (pictured above) through today’s tricky stage to lead home teammates Giniel de Villieres and Dennis Murphy.

“We suffered one puncture today and we didn’t have any problems bigger than that, so we’re happy,” Al-Attiyah said. “Mathieu did a really good job with the navigation — it wasn’t easy today.”

Sainz and his co-driver Lucas Cruz maintain a lead of more than two minutes at the head of the race. The Audi RS Q e-tron E2 duo have had some classic desert duels with Al-Attiyah in the past and now we could see another chapter of that rivalry playing out on the stages to come.

“This stage was very demanding. It was difficult to keep the tires alive amongst so many stones,” related Sainz. “We did get one puncture even though we were taking so much care.”

Sainz’s fellow Team Audi Sport drivers Stephane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekstrom were both more than 30 minutes behind stage winner Al-Attiyah today. The news was even worse for BRX Hunter driver Sebastien Loeb, who forfeited over an hour to the race leader. It was no better for Kuba Przygonski, who fell six hours behind the race lead on the way to Alula.

“Unfortunately for us after 40km we had two punctures. After that we had to do 390km without a spare tire — it was just a question of survival,” admitted Peterhansel

Tactical plans are already coming into play in the bike race. Daniel Sanders had the pace to win Stage 2, but felt he was better served by easing off the throttle at the end of the day. The Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing rider had no intention of opening the road for tomorrow’s 447km/278-mile journey to Ha’il.

“I slowed down a bit because we already know that tomorrow is going to be another really tough day. I wasn’t after the stage win today,” Sanders explained.

Sanders now sits fifth in the overall bike standings, less than three minutes behind race leader Mason Klein. Also well in the mix are the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo of Toby Price and Kevin Benavides. Price is second overall after Stage Two while Benavides occupies fourth in the general classification.

“This day was really hard, maybe the hardest day that I ever raced here in Saudi Arabia. It wasn’t the longest stage at 450km, but it was nearly six hours of really hard riding,” said Benavides.

Americans Ricky Brabec (stage 1 winner) and Skyler Howe rank sixth and seventh, with the latter finishing third today on his Husqvarna.

Mitch Guthrie Jr. of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich delivered a first stage win for his T3-M by MCE5 vehicle. A T3 stage win turned out to be the perfect birthday present for Guthrie’s co-driver Kellon Walch.

“Kellon did great today with navigation and the car was awesome,” declared Guthrie. “It’s been two years since I raced the Dakar and I’ve had many ups and downs at this race. It’s only Stage 2, but getting the win is always nice.”

Guthrie’s teammates Seth Quintero/Dennis Zenz are in second overall, 8m43s behind T3 race leaders Chaleco Lopez/Juan Pablo Latrach. Guillaume De Mevius, AJ Jones and Cristina Gutierrez are also inside the T3 top 10. Rokas Baciuska has slipped to sixth in the T4 leaderboard after a tough Stage 2 on the stones.

Tomorrow points the convoy towards Ha’il via a timed special stage with plenty more big boulders and steep canyons to navigate before the stage ends on the dunes.

Selected Overall Standings after Stage 2

T1 Car Class
1. Carlos Sainz (ESP) AUDI 08h:34m:26s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) TOYOTA +02:12
3. Mathieu Serradori (FRA) CENTURY +24:55
5. Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) TOYOTA +26:38
8. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) AUDI +36:08
11. Lucas Moraes (BRA) TOYOTA +41:14
15. Mattias Ekström (SWE) AUDI +48:11
26. Sebastien Loeb (FRA) BRX +01:21:43

T3 Lightweight Prototype
1. Chaleco Lopez (CHL) CAN-AM 09:37:36
2. Seth Quintero (USA) CAN-AM +08:43
3. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) OT3 +08:53
4. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) MCE5 +09:52
5. AJ Jones (USA) CAN-AM +16:22
6. Cristina Gutierrez (ESP) CAN-AM +41:08

BIKES
1. Mason Klein (USA) KTM 09:38:28
2. Toby Price (AUS) KTM +01:41
3. Joan Barreda (ESP) HONDA +02:03
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG) KTM +02:25
5. Daniel Sanders (AUS) GASGAS +02:55
6. Ricky Brabec (USA) MONSTER ENERGY HONDA +04:21
7. Skyler Howe (USA) HUSQVARNA +5:11
9. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM +08:18
21. Stefan Svitko (SVK) KTM +34:18
29. Camille Chapeliere (FRA) HUSQVARNA +58:30

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