Dakar 2022, Stage 11: Sainz fastest, Al-Attiyah inches closer to win

Carlos Sainz chalked up yet another stage win for Audi on the penultimate day of the Dakar Rally, while Nasser Al-Attiyah inched closer to overall victory in eighth.

Dakar 2022, Stage 11: Sainz fastest, Al-Attiyah inches closer to win

Sainz was never threatened in the 346km loop near Bisha since he grabbed the lead at the third waypoint from Overdrive’s Lucio Alvarez - the Spaniard successfully tackling the soft dunes towards the end of the stage en route to a comfortable 3m10s victory.

This was Sainz’s second stage win in the Dakar this year and the fourth for Audi’s new hybrid RS Q e-tron contender.

The result marked the continuation of Audi’s strong run in the second week of the rally, with the German manufacturer having now won three of the five stages since the rest day on Saturday - with all its three drivers scoring one victory apiece.

PLUS: The positive future implications of Audi's creditable Dakar debut

Sainz’s former World Rally Championship team-mate Sebastien Loeb initially emerged as his closest rival at the end of the day, the Frenchman putting on another solid performance in his Prodrive-run BRX to finish second.

Loeb had gained just over four minutes on his title rival Al-Attiyah, who had a subdued run to eighth in his factory Toyota Hilux and two places behind team-mate Giniel de Villiers, but the French driver has been hit with a five-minute penalty for speeding in a control zone, pushing the gap to Al-Attiyah back up to 33 minutes.

It leaves the Qatari driver with a whopping 33m19s advantage heading into the short final stage to Jeddah on Friday, putting him in a prime position to seal a fourth Dakar win.

Al-Attiyah and Toyota last scored a Dakar win together in 2019.

#201 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthieu Baumel

#201 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthieu Baumel

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Behind stage winner Sainz, Alvarez finished just over three minutes off the pace in second place following Loeb's penalty, with Mattias Ekstrom (Audi) and Nani Roma (Prodrive) not far behind in third and fourth respectively.

Stephane Peterhansel lost six minutes early in the day and finished the stage with roughly the same margin to team-mate Sainz, ending up sixth behind de Villiers in the Toyota.

In the overall standings, Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi has slipped over an hour behind Al-Attiyah in third, while a tough outing for X-raid Mini driver Jakub Przygonski has elevated Orlando Terranova (Prodrive) and de Villiers to fourth and fifth respectively.

Ekstrom moves up a place to ninth overall, aided by a difficult day for another X-raid driver Sebastian Halpern.

Overall standings after Stage 11:

Pos. Name Car Time Gap Penalty
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah TOYOTA 36:49:51   00:05:00
2 Sebastien Loeb PRODRIVE 37:23:10 +00:33:19 00:05:00
3 Yazeed Al Rajhi TOYOTA 37:53:34 +01:03:43 00:00:35
4 Orlando Terranova PRODRIVE 38:21:20 +01:31:29 00:13:00
5 Giniel de Villiers TOYOTA 38:34:02 +01:44:11 00:05:00
6 Jakub Przygonski MINI 38:41:48 +01:51:57 00:00:00
7 Vladimir Vasilyev BMW 38:49:40 +01:59:49 00:05:00
8 Mathieu Serradori CENTURY 39:24:10 +02:34:19 00:15:00
9 Mattias Ekstrom AUDI 39:29:48 +02:39:57 00:17:00
10 Sebastian Halpern MINI 39:29:51 +02:40:00 00:05:00
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