Nasser Al-Attiyah wins Dakar Rally for the fifth time, Loeb comes second
Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah won his fifth Dakar Rally and for a second time in a row after endurance rally finished in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
In another characteristic display from the Qatari driver, Al-Attiyah switched to a conservative approach once all his rivals had fallen by the wayside, playing the long game instead of going all out for individual stage honours.
The 52 year old Al-Attiyah won three stages and led from stage three as rivals hit trouble. He finished a safe eighth place on the final 136km stage between Hofuf and Dammam on Sunday, he took overall win by 1hr20m49s in one of the most one sided contests of the Dakar's recent history.
In second place was the Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, who was also runner up last year. Loeb gave it all he could as he won a record six successive stages in the second week for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team. But the 48 year old Frenchman had lost so much time on the first part of the race that it was a lost cause, in the end he also ended up crashing his Audi at the same spot as his teammate.
With his 5th win, Al-Attiyah now ranks second in the list of all time winners in the car category behind eight time champion Stephane Peterhansel “Mr Dakar” of France, who retired from this year’s edition after crashing his electric hybrid Audi.
A year to remember for TOYOTA:
Al-Attiyah’s Toyota teammate Lucas Moraes of Brazil finished third, who surprised everyone on his maiden appearance in Dakar with a trouble free run in his customer Toyota Hilux. Two more drivers from the Toyota stable rounded off the top five in what was one of the strongest showings from the Japanese manufacturer, with factory drivers Giniel de Villiers and Henk Lategan finishing fourth and fifth respectively separated by just seven minutes at the finish.
Notable incidents in each stage:
- Previous year bike winner Sam Sunderland suffered and accident at the 52nd kilometer of the stage and was airlifted to Yanbu hospital with a concussion and fractured a shoulder.
- Michel Kremer and Thomas de Bois in the car category suffered a fuel leak, which caused the car to catch fire and burn beyond repair. The driver and the co-driver were unharmed.
Stage 3 :
- Ricky Brabec suffered an accident at the 274th kilometer of the stage and was attended by the medical team. Brabec was transported to hospital after complaining of neck pain, ending his rally.
- Joaquim Rodrigues suffered a fall at roughly the 90 kilometer mark of the stage and was taken to hospital in Ha’il with a broken left femur.
- Lithuanian driver Benediktas Vanagas was airlifted from the stage after an accident after displaying concussion-like symptoms.
- Audi teammates Carlos Sainz and Stéphane Peterhansel crashed in separate incidents at the same spot during kilometer 212 of the stage. Peterhansel's co-driver Édouard Boulanger suffered a broken vertebra in their accident, forcing their withdrawal from the rally.
- Dutch driver Erik van Loon suffered a roll 99 kilometers into the stage. Van Loon was airlifted to hospital after he briefly lost consciousness and complained of neck pain after the wreck.
- During the stage, Livio Sassinotti, an Italian spectator, died after being involved in an incident with Aleš Loprais' truck on a sand dune. Sassinotti was airlifted from the scene, but perished before reaching a hospital. The incident marked the fourth consecutive year that the Dakar Rally had seen a fatality. Loprais, who was the leader of the Truck category at the time, had to miss Stage 10 pending a police investigation, and abandoned the rally.
- Spanish driver Carlos Sainz suffered an accident roughly six kilometers into the stage. Sainz initially was evacuated by helicopter due to back and neck pain, but requested the helicopter turn around mid-flight so that he could return to the car and try to finish the rally. Sainz managed to return the car to the bivouac, but was forced to withdraw after finding the car was too badly damaged to be repaired.