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Bisha (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) – Qatari driver Nasser al-Attiyah and British driver Sam Sunderland are just one safe navigable stage away from celebrating the Dakar Rally victory after Thursday’s penultimate day of action.
Three-time champion al-Attiyah holds a 28-minute lead over nine-time French rally champion Sebastien Loeb heading into Friday’s 164-kilometre stage.
Loeb cut 51-year-old al-Attiyah’s lead by four minutes on Thursday in a 346km stage won by veteran Spanish driver Carlos Sainz in his hybrid Audi.
It was the 41st career stage success on the Dakar for the 59-year-old, three-time winner of the race.
Sunderland may be tossing and turning in their tent as they come close to winning the moto title for a second time. In 2017 he became the first Briton to win either category in the grueling rally.
The 32-year-old Dubai-based KTM rider holds a nearly seven-minute lead over Chilean Pablo Quintanilla after finishing second in Thursday’s stage behind 2021 champion Kevin Benavides of Argentina.
It is the sixth time Sunderland have taken the overall lead at this year’s event and are experienced enough not to assume they have already won the race ahead of Friday’s stage.
The Briton only needs overnight leader Adrien van Beveren as a point of reference for what can go wrong – the Frenchman got lost four kilometers after the start of the stage and now has more than 15 minutes to go. delay.
“I feel really good and can’t wait for tomorrow,” Sunderland said.
“The race isn’t over until you pass that checkered flag on the final stage.
“As we know, the navigation in this race is really difficult.
“It was really difficult this race because, as you have seen, the times are so tight every day.
“I’m just going to try to have a clean stage tomorrow and hopefully we can get there.”
© 2022 AFP