Nasser Al-Attiyah won Sunday's Dakar Rally stage. (Red Bull Photo)
Nasser Al-Attiyah won Sunday's Dakar Rally stage. (Red Bull Photo)

Al-Attiyah Tops Opening Dakar Rally Stage

HA’IL, Saudi Arabia – After winning the Dakar Rally prologue Saturday, Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah eased to victory in the first full-length stage Sunday.

The 333km stage belonged to Al-Attiyah, who won by more than 12 minutes ahead of Dakar Rally legend Sebastien Loeb in second. 

“I’m happy with the job that Mathieu (Baumel, co-driver) and myself did today,” Al-Attiyah said. “I really pushed from beginning to finish. Mathieu’s navigation was great. To finish day one with a good lead is an amazing start, but there’s still so far to go.”

It was a bad day for the Audi three-car team, with each car facing issues throughout the day. Stephane Peterhansel crashed his Audi RS Q e-tron, severely damaging the rear axle and left-rear suspension. Carlos Sainz got lost trying to find a checkpoint near the end of the stage in the second Audi, with the third Audi driven by Mattias Ekstrom also running into trouble.

In the motorcycle class, Daniel Sanders backed up his prologue victory by topping Sunday’s stage. He leads the class by three minutes and seven seconds ahead of Pablo Quintanilla.

“After winning the prologue I started today in 15th,” Sanders said. “By the refuelling, I was catching guys so I knew I wasn’t going too badly. Then I arrived at a place where a few others had made a mistake. I managed to find the way and hit the next waypoint.”

Reigning Dakar Rally truck champion Dmitry Sotnikov won Sunday’s stage, with American Seth Quintero topping the lightweight prototype division. 

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