Al-Attiyah wins fourth Dakar Rally crown; Sunderland claims bike title

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Published on: 14/01/2022 – 16:02

Qatari driver Nasser al-Attiyah has won the Dakar Rally for the fourth time as a tiring two-week trek across the Saudi Arabian desert reached its climax on Friday.

Al-Attiyah, who has already won in 2011, 2015 and 2019, received the full honor of almost half an hour from the French international players for nine seasons. Sebastien Loeb.

British motorcyclist Sam Sunderland took his second Dakar Rally crown in the past.

The last leg was tragically traumatized when French mechanic Quentin Lavallee, 20, died in a car accident.

Al-Attiyah – who also won a bronze medal in the skeet at the 2012 London Olympics – led from start to finish to secure his first victory. Saudi Arabia after the last two places.

“It was an incredible Dakar for us,” said the 51-year-old Toyota driver.

“We haven’t won since 2019. There were three strong teams that could win. Matthieu (Baumel’s French team-mate) and I, the team, all did a great job of winning.

“We had just finished Tuesday every time since we came to Saudi Arabia two years ago, now we are happy to achieve our goal.

“The whole race went without a hitch.”

The final leg of the car race was won by South Africa’s Henk Lategan and Stephane Peterhansel who holds the record for the second Dakar in a mixed electric Audi.

The German manufacturer had said before the competition that he had no ambitions to win the full title when he was the first to enter a mixed race but won a number of steps.

‘My head could explode’

Sunderland, who in 2017 became Britain’s first champion in the car or bicycle category, finished 3 minutes and 27 seconds ahead of Pablo Quintanilla of Chile and Matthias Walkner of Austria to take the Jeddah flag.

Sunderland, 32, ruled for the first week but struggled to dominate the final days and lost several times before coming out on top.

He said it did not go well in the last phase he entered with a healthy guide.

“To be honest I can’t be happy,” Sunderland said.

“The last part was very difficult and very stressful … Too much going, a lot of deceptive notes, several times a little confusing and I don’t know if I’m going the right way.

“Few. Honestly, my head could explode. Ten minutes ago, I didn’t know if I had won, now they tell me, and, wow, the dream has come true.

“I had a pretty rough season, but when you win Dakar, it’s all worth it. So good.”

For Quintanilla it was a good reward to leave Husqvarna to replace 2021 champion Kevin Benavides at Honda.

The 35-year-old said the “Dakar” was too much for him, however, his spirit was encouraged by his fellow writers.

“I’ve been through a month with the results,” he said.

“It was a very tough race. I did my best. This is a good result for me as part of another team.

“We fought a lot from day one. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. But I’m really happy with how I did in this race.”

Walkner, who was the champion in 2018, was delighted with his final place.

If you told me that before the convention ended, I would say, ‘Where should I sign?’ ”- a 35-year-old girl.

“I enjoy this place, which seems to be a success.”

(AFP)

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