Loeb wins 48-hour test, disaster for Al-Attiyah

As the 549km test around Shubaytah resumed on Friday, Loeb sat third in the order behind Audi duo Carlos Sainz Sr and Mattias Ekstrom, with 5m19s to make up and only a third of the distance remaining.

But the nine-time World Rally champion was able to overhaul both Audis in little time, jumping Ekstrom at the first checkpoint of the day before surging ahead of Sainz at Bivouac F.

The Frenchman steadily extended his advantage over the remainder of the stage, claiming a 2m01s victory over Sainz, who hung on to the lead in the overall standings.

It was Loeb’s second stage victory of 2024 and the 25th of his career, making him the sixth-most decorated driver in the history of the ASO-run rally-raid, tied with former Mitsubishi driver Hiroshi Masuoka.

Ekstrom lost touch with Loeb and Sainz as the stage progressed, conceding 10 minutes in the run to the finish line, but still finished well clear of Lucas Moraes in the best of the Toyotas.

Eryk Goczal put in a solid effort in his Taurax Max T3 class entry to round off the stage in fifth, a further three minutes back on Moraes.

#200 Nasser Racing Prodrive Hunter: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Mathieu Baumel

Photo by: A.S.O.

#200 Nasser Racing Prodrive Hunter: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Mathieu Baumel

Reigning champion Al-Attiyah had jumped Gonczal for fifth by Bivouac F but his Prodrive Hunter crawled to a halt 530km into the stage after a harsh landing broke the steering bearing.

The Qatari driver was eventually able to get to the finish line but the repair work cost him the best part of three hours, effectively ending his chances of a third Dakar title in succession – and sixth overall. He had been sitting third in the combined rankings yesterday, 21m41s off the lead.

Al-Attiyah’s troubles have given Audi a clear advantage in the overall standings, with Sainz heading into the rest day in Riyadh 20m21s clear of team-mate Ekstrom.

Loeb is now the closest challenger to the Audi duo in third, but 29m31s off the lead with six stages to run in the second week of the marathon.

Overdrive’s Guillaume de Mevius heads the Toyota contingent in fourth ahead of factory duo Lucas Moraes and Giniel de Villiers, with all three having already dropped an hour on Sainz.

MP Sports Ford driver Martin Prokop, Century’s Mathieu Serradori, Toyota newcomer Guy Botterill and Goczal round off the top 10.

Al-Attiyah is provisionally classified 17th but could drop further down the pack as more drivers reach the finish.

Dakar resumes on Sunday following the now traditional mid-rally halt, with drivers set to face a 483km stage between Riyadh and Al-Duwadimi at the restart.

Provisional classification after Stage 6 (Top 10):




Time / gap


Carlos Sainz




Mattias Ekstrom




Sebastien Loeb




Guillaume de Mevius




Lucas Moraes




Giniel de Villiers




Martin Prokop




Mathieu Serradori




Guy Botterill




Eryk Goczal




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