Al-Attiyah in this mode

Al-Attiyah in this mode

While the 118 kilometers of special saw several drivers, including Sébastien Loeb, deliberately lose time for the “48 hours flat” stage, Nasser Al-Attiyah attacked hard to dominate the 5th stage of the Dakar 2024 and take the lead. second place overall behind Yazeed Al-Rajhi.

Strategy was invited to the Dakar this Wednesday. While the drivers will take part in a “48 hour” stage this Thursday then this Friday, the drivers in the car category did not have the same idea in mind over the 118 kilometers of special on the program for the 5th round of the test. At the wheel of his Hunter, Nasser Al-Attiyah absolutely did not try to calculate when approaching the first dunes of the Saudi “Empty Quarter”. The Qatari driver set the best time of the special, his first victory at the wheel of the prototype designed by Prodrive, almost two minutes ahead of Guerlain Chicherit when the Argentinian Juan Cruz Yacopini completed the Top 3 seven seconds behind the Habs.

« There was no strategy on my part, I wanted to win the stageno matter what happens tomorrow (Thursday) because there are 600 kilometers, I don’t mind opening the track, even if I lose time what matters to me is to overcome these 600 kilometers,” declared the double title holder in comments collected by the official website of the event. Leader of the general classification, stage local Yazeed Al-Rajhi was not included in the calculations before the big highlight of this Dakar. The Saudi set the fourth fastest time, two minutes behind, and largely retains the overall lead, with Nasser Al-Attiyah taking the lead over Carlos Sainz for second place but nine minutes behind the leader.

Loeb plays who loses, wins

Sébastien Loeb, for his part, was absolutely not on the same wavelength. Indeed, the nine-time world rally champion played the strategy card for the 6th stage by doing everything possible to lose as much time as possible. It was on purpose that the Alsatian missed a mandatory crossing point, thus receiving a fifteen-minute penalty which is added to the six minutes lost on the track. The driver of the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team thus falls to ninth place in the general classification, now 43 minutes behind Nasser Al-Attiyah.

“It was a quiet stage because the goal was not to set a time, not to gain time because I don’t want to open the road tomorrow (Thursday), said Sébastien Loeb at the microphone of the L’Equipe channel. We did it peacefully, without risks. It allowed us to familiarize ourselves with driving in the dunes. It’s still quite different. Even for 100 kilometers, it’s already long so I imagine tomorrow (Thursday). We tried to drive calmly to have a good position on the road tomorrow (THURSDAY). » In the same state of mind, Stéphane Peterhansel did not hesitate to stop during the special. “We didn’t drive very fast during the special and we stopped for five minutes, but I don’t think anyone really knows what the right strategy is,” conceded the six-time winner of the Dakar on four wheels. The answers will only come this Thursday, in the heart of the dunes of “Quart Vide”.

Ranking of the 5th stage (cars) – Wednesday January 10, 2024
1- Nasser Al-Attiyah – Mathieu Baumel (QAT-FROM/Hunter) a 1h37’25”
2- Guerlain Chicherit – Alex Winocq (FRA-FRA/Toyota) at 1’51”
3- Juan Cruz Yacopini – Daniel Oliveras Carreras (ARG-ESP/Toyota) at 1’58”
4- Yazeed Al-Rajhi – Timo Gottschalk (ARS-ALL/Toyota) at 2’00”
5- William of Mevius – Xavier Panseri (BEL-FROM/Toyota) at 3’08”

General ranking after 5 stages (out of 13)
1- Yazeed Al-Rajhi – Timo Gottschalk (ARS-ALL/Toyota) en 17h24’04’’
2- Nasser Al-Attiyah – Mathieu Baumel (QAT-FROM/Hunter) at 9’03”
3- Carlos Sainz – Lucas Cruz (ESP-ESP/Audi) at 11’31”
4- Mattias Ekström – Emil Bergkvist (SUE-SUE/Audi) à 22’58”
5- Mathieu Serradori – Loïc Minaudier (FRA-FRA/Century Racing) at 31’00”

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