Al-Attiyah’s bid for a sixth profession win in Dakar took a crushing blow on the 48-hour Stage 6 when his Prodrive Hunter screeched to a halt simply earlier than the penultimate waypoint with a damaged steering bearing, leaving him stranded in Empty Quarter.
The Qatari driver was ultimately capable of get the automobile repaired with the help from his workforce, however by the point he reached the ultimate bivouac at Shubaytah he had already dropped 2hr45 minutes to the leaders.
With Al-Attiyah now out of the working, Loeb is now the one driver with a sensible probability of overhauling Audi duo Sainz and Ekstrom within the forty sixth version of the celebrated rally-raid as the sphere heads to Riyadh for a much-needed relaxation day.
Loeb, competing for Prodrive below the Bahrain Raid Xtreme banner, came from behind on Friday to claim his second stage victory of 2023 and transfer as much as third within the standings, 29 minutes behind Sainz.
An general win at Dakar has eluded the Frenchman regardless of seven earlier makes an attempt, however Al-Attiyah hopes he can spoil Audi’s get together within the second week of Dakar.
“It wasn’t a superb day,” stated Al-Attiyah. “We broke a steering bearing with 50 kilometers to go and we needed to watch for our help to restore it. It is a pity, as a result of we had a superb particular stage regardless of beginning on the entrance yesterday. In any case, we are going to proceed and see what we are able to do”.
“The thought is to assist Seb [Loeb] to win the Dakar. I am going to do every thing I can to make it occur”.
Picture by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool
#203 Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter: Sebastien Loeb, Fabian Lurquin
Loeb had deliberately missed a waypoint on Stage 5 to incur a penalty and safe a extra beneficial beginning place for the 48-hour take a look at, the place drivers received’t have the luxurious of tracks left by bike riders as they took diverging routes in Saudi Arabia.
Whereas the technique ended up costing him extra time than he would have favored, he ended the opening day of the stage in a strong third place, earlier than leaping each Ekstrom and Sainz on Friday to take the stage win.
“It was a superb day for us, a superb stage, no issues,” the nine-time WRC champion defined.
“It was very lengthy with that first a part of the particular yesterday, greater than 400km. I attempted to take it simple, particularly on the Dakar, and to not be too onerous on the automobile, as a result of it’s extremely onerous on the mechanic[al components] within the dunes.
“The technique was the proper one. What makes Audi’s technique higher is that by dropping 9 minutes they have been far sufficient again and, additionally, Nasser on the entrance was opening up the observe very properly.”
“So it wasn’t as shut as we anticipated. We needed to do the stage, we received it, and we are going to most likely transfer up within the general standings.
“It is not too unhealthy, we’re nonetheless within the battle. All in all, we misplaced time twice between a tyre lever and a triple puncture.
“Aside from that, we’re having a superb week, but it surely’s nonetheless going very quick.”
There are nonetheless six extra phases to run in Dakar, with drivers set to fly to Riyadh to renew the rally on Sunday earlier than making their option to the end line in Yanbu through stops in Al Duwadimi, Hai’il and Al’Ula.
The 49-year-old stated he and Prodrive should lower down on punctures with a view to enhance their probabilities within the second and closing week of the rally.
“Everybody has accelerated to the utmost and the extent could be very excessive,” he stated. “At this tempo, it is regular for issues to interrupt and issues to occur.
“For now every thing goes properly for us, we simply must maintain going like this and discover a resolution to the punctures for the final phases with stones, and that is it.”
2024 is more likely to be Audi’s final probability of profitable Dakar, with the German producer set to drag the curtain down on its final remaining manufacturing unit effort to give attention to its upcoming Method 1 venture with Sauber.
Loeb, in the meantime, will probably be becoming a member of Renault model Dacia in 2025 in a programme that may also be run by Prodrive.