Dakar 2022: Al-Attiyah emerges victorious from intense desert chase – round-up and gallery

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Britain's Sam Sunderland won the Bike category for the second time at Dakar, whilst Nasser Al-Attiyah defeated Sébastien Loeb in the Car class


Nasser Al-Attiyah was assured in taking his fourth Dakar win in the Car category


Britain’s Sam Sunderland has won the Dakar 2022’s Bike category, whilst Nasser Al-Attiyah claimed a comfortable victory for Toyota in the Car class.

Sunderland, born in Poole but now based in Dubai for his off-road training, clung on to add to his 2017 victory by winning for GasGas – the first win for the brand at Dakar. Having controlled Dakar most of the way after leading from Stage 2, a difficult Stage 7 meant that Sunderland dropped down to fourth. However, the Brit reclaimed the lead on Stage 8.

Heading into the final stage, Sunderland’s margin over second-placed Pablo Quintalla was almost seven minutes, and though the Chilean hacked away half of that in an attempt to snatch victory at the death, Sunderland held on on to claim his second title by 3min 27sec.

“I honestly can’t be happier, I’m so grateful to all the team, all the work from everybody.” he said when victory was confirmed. “Honestly this last stage was so difficult and so much stress. A lot of navigation, a lot of tricky notes, a few times a bit confusing, not sure if I was going the right way. My head was gonna explode, but what a feeling! All of these moments along the way and the harder times you have just makes the feeling more great.”


Britain’s Sam Sunderland took his second Dakar win


In the Cars category, an assured performance from Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah brought him his fourth Dakar win. Although the Qatari only won two of the events 12 stages, his consistency meant the Toyota man took victory with a gap of over 27min 46sec which belied the intensity of the battle with Prodrive’s Sébastien Loeb.

“It was an amazing win for us,” said Al-Attiyah, who had previously won in 2011, 2015 and 2019 in South America. “Three teams [were very] strong, it’s possible anyone can win here. But we did a good job – me and [co-driver] Matthieu [Baumel], always we are in good shape from the beginning of Dakar. This was very important for me to win in our region.”

The showdown’s main protagonists were decided early: a tricky opening stage with a hard-to-find waypoint meant all but Al-Attiyah and Loeb lost considerable time to navigational issues, with Audi’s Carlos Sainz shipping over two hours.

Loeb then had a serious setback when a propshaft issue lost him half an hour on Stage 3, a margin Al-Attiyah would maintain for the rest of the rally raid.

The Frenchman, who would lose even more time to Al-Attiyah with further navigational issues – meaning at one point he was 50 minutes behind – fought tooth and nail to drag himself back into contention, eventually bringing the gap down to under half an hour, ultimately was unable to usurp the canny Qatari in an intense battle. Loeb was runner-up, with local Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi coming home in third for the independent Overdrive team, driving a Toyota also.

Al-Attiyah’s win now means he’s tied with Ari Vatanen for second most victories in the Cars category at Dakar on four, with Stéphane Peterhansel topping the table with eight.

Dakar debutants Audi brought considerable pace on its first attempt at the blue riband rally raid, winning the most stages out of any team (five to Toyota’s four and Prodrive’s three). However, those navigational issues and mechanical problems meant neither Sainz, Peterhansel or Matthias Ekström were in contention for the overall win, but it could be a different story next year.

Alexandre Giroud won the Quad class for the first time on his sixth time of asking, doing so on the 25th anniversary of his late father becoming the first person to finish the Dakar on a quadbike, before the category was even created.

The Grenoble native had taken out a six-year loan to fund his first Dakar entry, which he has just managed to pay off. This only added to the emotion of dedicating the win to his father, who passed away recently after contracting COVID-19.

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Kamaz’s recent domination of the Truck category continued, the Russian manufacturer taking a sixth consecutive win with Dmitri Sotnikov at the wheel, whilst 19-year-old Seth Quintero extended his record of Dakar stage wins in one event by claiming a 12th today in the LV category. However, a retirement on the second stage meant the overall win went to Francisco Chaleco Lopez.

Whilst previous years Dakar has brought fatalities in the competitive stages, tragically there was a fatality away from the rally. 20-year-old Quentin Lavalee, chief mechanic of the No726 Peugeot 205 participating in the Dakar classic, was killed in a road car crash with a local truck whilst travelling with the team’s co-driver.

This followed a suspected terrorist attack at the start of the event, when an explosion under the pedals of the support vehicle competitor Phillipe Boutron was driving left him with serious leg injuries.

Motor Sport extends its condolences to the family and friends of Quentin Lavalee, and wishes Boutron all the best in his recovery.