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The 2022 Dakar Rally resumed after a rest day with Stage 7 and some very familiar names atop the overall podium after the 701-kilometer segment from Riyadh to Al Dawadimi.
Rally legend Sebastien Loeb won in the car class, finishing ahead of overall leader and three-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatar native still holds a lead of nearly 45 minutes over Loeb through seven of 12 stages.
“We had a fantastic special until 50 kilometers before the line, when we started having engine problems,” said Loeb, a nine-time World Rally champion trying to win his first Dakar. “It just sputtered on, off and on again … We lost a lot of time near the end, but we still came out on top, so no complaints from my side. We’re not in a position of strength, there are no questions to be answered. There is no strategy. We’ll just do our job and see how it plays out.”
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Said Al-Attiyah: “The second week of the Dakar is a different race altogether. We didn’t really try to attack this morning, we left it for later in the stage. I’m not following any strategy. If we’re in a position to win a special, we won’t let it slip away, but our priority is to give it our all day after day and hope that it will pay off at the end of the Dakar.”
Three-time Dakar Rally champion Carlos Sainz finished third in the stage but remained out of overall contention nearly 45 minutes off the lead.
In the bike division, Nacho Cornejo won Stage 7 while Adrien Van Beveren moved into the overall lead with a 10th in the stage.
Sam Sunderland fell from first to fourth overall after teammate Daniel Sanders, who won Stage 6, crashed in the liaison and missed the start after being taken to a hospital because of an injured left arm.
“It was a bit of a rough day,” Sunderland said. “It started out bad for Sanders with a crash in the liaison and then the stage was really, really difficult with the navigation, so not ideal to start in front. Where the rains have passed through after the 00 car, so many of the tracks are washed away, so it’s a bit of a casino. You just flip a coin and hope it’s that one.
“Honestly, it’s a bit frustrating, but at the same time I’m sure the next days will be the same for the other guys. Even yesterday, when people were asking if I was excited about leading the race, of course, it’s cool, but it means nothing on the rest day. We still have so many long days in front of us and I’m sure there’ll be some more opportunities to attack, to recuperate some time.”
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 9, 2022
In SSV, U.S. driver Austin Jones moved back into the overall lead with a 10th-place finish in the seventh stage.
In the light prototype division, Seth Quintero won his fifth consecutive stage and seventh overall. The American stayed on track for trying to break the Dakar record for stage victories (10).
Here are the stage winners and the top three overall in each category after Day 6:
Stage 7 winner: Sebastien Loeb (FRA), 3:09:32. Overall: 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 23:52:22; 2. Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Extreme, 24:37:21; 3. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU), Overdrive Toyota, 24:45:53.
Stage 7 winner: Nacho Cornejo (CHL), 3:28:46. Overall: 1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, 23:45:02; 2. Matthias Walkner (AUS), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 23:50:14; 3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 23:50:25. Other U.S. notables: 10. Andrew Short, Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, 24:13:12; 12. Mason Klein, BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team, 24:17:58; 13. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda, 24:23:54. Withdrew: Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Racing.
Stage 7 winner: Anton Shibalov (RAF), 3:33:17. Overall: 1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), Kamaz-Master 26:05:54; 2. Eduard Nikolaev (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 26:11:08; 3. Anton Shibalov (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 26:37:19.
Stage 7 winner: Seth Quintero (USA), 3:45:20. Overall: 1. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL), EKS — South Racing, 28:17:24; 2. Sebastian Eriksson (SWE), EKS — South Racing, 29:41:29; 3. Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (ESP), Red Bull Off-Road Team USA, 30:30:04. Notable: 10. Seth Quintero (USA), 44:13:04.
Stage 7 winner: Aron Domzala (POL), 4:00:56. Overall: 1. Austin Jones (USA), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 29:28:14; 2. Michal Goczal (POL), Cobant-Energylandia Rally Team, 29:33:25; 3. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), 29:34:47.
Stage 7 winner: Marcelo Medeiros (BRA), 4:17:18. Overall: 1. Alexandre Giroud (FRA), Yamaha Racing – SMX -Drag’on, 29:38:54; 2. Pablo Copetti (USA), Del Amo Motorsports/Yamaha Rally Team, 29:57:15; 3. Aleksandr Maksimov (RAF), Chyr Mari, 30:31:33.
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Dakar Rally 2022, Stage 7: Sebastien Loeb wins; Austin Jones retakes lead in SSV originally appeared on NBCSports.com