Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) for Toyota Gazoo Racing races during stage 5 of Rally Dakar 2021 from Riyadh to Buraydah, Saudi Arabia on January 07, 2021 // SI202201070386 // Usage for editorial use only //
Nasser Al-Attiyah for Toyota Gazoo Racing races during stage five of Rally Dakar from Riyadh to Buraydah, Saudi Arabia on Jan. 7 (Red Bull photo)

Nasser Al-Attiyah Stretches Dakar Advantage

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Nasser Al-Attiyah navigated the 2,000km off-road terrain against the clock to stretch his lead in the Dakar Rally to 48 minutes, 54 seconds in advance of Saturday’s rest day.

Sébastien Loeb, the nine-time WRC winner, trails the three-time Dakar champion through six stages.

“It was a complicated day,” Loeb said. “We got lost after about 100km and that cost us quite a lot of time. After that we did everything we could to close the gap in front.”

Daniel Sanders, the Australian of GasGas Factory Racing, is now five minutes, 35 seconds behind his teammate and leader Sam Sunderland following his stage win, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner in second.

“There were a few riders who were complaining and wanting to stop the race because it was too dangerous,” Sanders said. “I disagreed with it, but the decision was taken to stop it.”

The bikes were racing on the 423km stage used by the cars and trucks yesterday, but the bike stage was halted after 100km because of tough terrain.

American teenager Seth Quintero of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team picked up his fifth T3 win in six days and he now eyes the record for Dakar stage wins held by Pierre Lartigue, who won 10 in 1994.

“That was some of the scariest driving I’ve ever done,” Quintero said. “A few kilometres after the refueling we ended up losing the brakes. So we did the last 180km with absolutely no brakes. Somehow we managed and we might have even got the win, that’s nuts”

Chilean Chaleco Lopez maintains his T3 overall lead into the Rest Day, while Quintero’s teammate Cristina Gutiérrez is up to third overall, two hours, 20 minutes, 16 seconds behind as she targets a podium finish.

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