HA’IL, Saudi Arabia – Nine-time WRC winner Sébastien Loeb hunted down Nasser Al-Attiyah for fast-time honors and the 339km stage win on day two of the Dakar Rally.
It’s the 15th stage win of Loeb’s career and the first stage win for Team BRX.
“It was a real tussle between Nasser and myself today,” Loeb said. “He was opening the road and was really pushing for all 340km. By the end of the stage I had caught him.”
Though Al-Attiyah missed out on a third consecutive stage win, the Qatari retains his overall lead of the car category.
“We were able to go fast today and we always enjoy that,” Al-Attiyah said. “I think this will be an extremely fast Dakar all the way to the end. The performance of our T1+ is really fantastic.”
It was a much better day for Audi Sport, which needed to work through car issues on Sunday.
All three Audi RS Q e-tron cars placed inside the top 10 of stage two. Carlos Sainz led the team’s charge finishing third, less than six minutes back from Loeb.
Fourteen-time Dakar winner, Stéphane Peterhansel, posted the day’s fifth fastest time, a result made more remarkable considering he didn’t get back to the bivouac last night until long after sunset. Mattias Ekström rounded out Audi’s effort with a ninth-place finish.
“This is the first stage we’ve finished without a technical problem and it feels really good,” Peterhansel said.
Sam Sunderland, the 2017 Dakar winner, is in position to make history.
With two stages complete, Sunderland leads the bike category once again, and if it holds, he’d become the first rider to win the Dakar bike race with two different brands since Richard Sainct did it two decades ago.
“I just tried to push all the way today,” Sunderland said. “Again there was a lot of navigation with some tricky notes in the roadbook.”
Leading the charge for the Red Bull KTM Factory Team, meanwhile, is 2018 Dakar winner Matthias Walkner, who is four minutes back from race leader Sunderland.
Two-time Dakar truck race winner Andrey Karginov maintained Team Kamaz Master’s fine pace at the rally, topping the stage with teammates Dmitry Sotnikov, Eduard Nikolaev and Anton Shibalov sweeping the top four of the truck classification.