On Wednesday, France’s Sebastien Loeb won his fourth stage in the current edition of the Dakar Desert Rally in Saudi Arabia, but the lead in the general standings is still in the hands of Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah, one hour and 21 minutes ahead of his nearest pursuer.
Loeb (Bahrain Red Extreme) scored 1:48:32 hours in the tenth stage, ahead of Swede Matthias Ekstrom (Audi) and the 25-year-old Brazilian Lucas Murais (Overdrive), while Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) finished fourth by 5: 45 minutes for the nine-time World Rally Champion.
Al-Attiyah’s French assistant, Mathieu Bommel, said, “We do not need to attack. We will not try to win the stages. The most important thing is to search for the final crowning, and this scenario will continue until the end.”
The tenth stage was held between Haradh and Shaybah, at a distance of 622 km, including 114 special stages, while the eleventh stage “marathon” is scheduled to be held on Thursday between Shaybah and the Empty Quarter, at a distance of 426 km, including 273 special stages. The service of mechanical assistance to drivers will not be available Thursday in the overnight camp.
“If they make us cross the dunes it’s going to be complicated because we have to find the right path. You could quickly go wrong and miss the next path point,” Baumel said.
Al-Attiyah (52 years), who defended the title four times in 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2022, is ahead of 1:21:34 hours from Moraish, and 1:37:23 hours from Loeb.
In the motorcycle category, a “fiery” competition is taking place between the Argentine trio, Kevin Benavides (Red Bull KTM), American Skyler Hawes (Husqvarna) and Australian Toby Price (Red Bull KTM).
The Botswana, Ross Branch, aboard Hero, scored his second victory in the current edition, 21 seconds ahead of Frenchman Adrian van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda) and half a minute ahead of South African Michael Docherty. Benavides finished fourth, a minute behind Botswana.
“The Dakar is tougher than I thought. But today I felt at home. Deep down I want to win, I know I can do it, we’ll see, keep learning the boat,” Docherty said.
Benavides led the overall standings, 1:29 ahead of Hawes and 2:10 ahead of Price.