Al-Attiyah wins short stage to move up to second overall

The Al-Hofuf to Shubaytah Stage 5 covered the shortest special stage distance of this year’s Dakar Rally at 118km, to provide small respite before the two-day marathon stage begins tomorrow, which will see competitors stop on Thursday and camp overnight and resume on Friday.

The stage was contested entirely on sand dune terrain, with Al-Attiyah quickest throughout in his Nasser Racing-entered Prodrive Hunter, and he eventually picked up the stage win – the 48th Dakar Rally stage triumph of his career – by 1m51s from Overdrive Toyota’s Guerlain Chicherit.

Fellow Toyota driver Juan Cruz Yacopini grabbed third place on the stage, ahead of overall leader Al-Rajhi in fourth who lost exactly two minutes to Al-Attiyah, as another Toyota entrant and Stage 1 winner Guillaume De Mevius completed the top five finishers on the stage.

It was a low-key day for Audi’s Carlos Sainz as he conceded 9m02s to stage winner Al-Attiyah, putting him well outside the top 10 on the stage rankings, to duly drop down to third overall.

#201 Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux Overdrive: Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Timo Gottschalk

Photo by: A.S.O.

#201 Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux Overdrive: Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Timo Gottschalk

But Audi team-mate Mattias Ekstrom profited from Stage 3 winner Lucas Moraes hitting trouble to move up to fourth overall, as the Toyota driver bled 37m16s on the stage.

Elsewhere, Sebastien Loeb’s hopes of a maiden Dakar Rally win took another blow as the Prodrive entrant was hit with a 15-minute penalty for missing a waypoint on the stage, culminating in 21m13s total time lost on Wednesday, but after the stage he revealed it was intentional.

“We took it easy during this stage, as the goal was neither to get a good time nor to gain time, because we don’t want to open the road tomorrow,” Loeb told La chaîne L’Équipe.

“I preferred playing it safe, trying to start quite far back tomorrow to try and fight my way back through the pack.

“Yeah, we missed a waypoint. On purpose.”

That promoted Mathieu Serradori into fifth place in the overall standings for Century Racing, while Stephane Peterhansel had a mixed day as he stopped for five minutes on the stage but was still able to move up to sixth in the order in his Audi.

X-Raid Mini’s Vaidotas Zala was another to profit to climb to seventh in the overall standings, still in front of De Mevius in eighth, as Loeb and Moraes rounded out the top 10.

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