2022 Dakar Rally tunes up for unforgiving second week in deserts of Saudi Arabia

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2022 Dakar Rally tunes up for unforgiving second week in deserts of Saudi Arabia

The 2022 Dakar Rally convoy clocked up over 2,000km of racing over perilous terrain before arriving at the Rest Day. Tomorrow they will depart from Riyadh with a further 2,000km to navigate, spread across six desert stages.

As competitors took a well earned day off from the track, the mechanics got busy tuning up the race vehicles for a second week of intense off-road action. We’ve picked out some star performers from the first week of the Dakar and rounded up the latest results.

CAR CATEGORY

Battle for the lead: The first week at the Dakar could not have gone much better for Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT). In combination with co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) and the new Toyota Hilux T1+, the results have spoken for themselves. A pair of stage wins and an overall lead of close to 50 minutes have Al-Attiyah on course for a fourth Dakar title.

“We’re very happy to have a good lead after the first week of the rally. Now we just have to concentrate on managing the race during the second week of the Dakar.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

Star performer: This is not a Dakar debut for Laia Sanz (ESP), she has completed 11 editions already of the world’s toughest rally on a bike. But this is her first time racing on four wheels at the Dakar. At the midway point of the rally Sanz and co-driver Maurizio Gerini (ITA) have improved with every passing stage and they remain on course to bring their MINI ALL4 Racing to the finish line.

“The first week was an awesome experience. Sure, we had problems and lost time, but we are coping better with the MINI all the time and are gaining a lot of experience. Our goal for the coming week is always to finish in the top 30, in order to ensure we have a good starting position.” – Laia Sanz

BIKE CATEGORY

Battle for the lead: Two former winners and last year’s best placed rookie all feature in the current Top 3. 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland (GBR) leads from Matthias Walkner (AUS) by 2m39s. Then comes Sunderland’s GasGas team-mate Daniel Sanders (AUS) a further three minutes back in third overall. If Sunderland maintains his lead until the finish line he will become the first rider to win the Dakar bike race with two different brands since the legendary Richard Sainct (FRA) did it two decades ago.

“It’s always good to be leading the Dakar. Even if it’s a slim advantage, it’s been the same for the past four or five days. I had a big crash on Stage 4 that took the wind out of my sails for a little bit. I’m going to use the Rest Day to get back some energy for a big fight in the second week.” – Sam Sunderland

Star performer: The riding of two-time MotoGP winner Danilo Petrucci (ITA) on his Dakar debut has been box office since the start of the rally. The emotion on display after his Stage 5 win will be a standout moment from the 2022 Dakar no matter what happens in week two.

“It feels like in the last 10 days I have lived two lifetimes. Everything is new for me so I’m learning every second. I’m so happy to make it to the Rest Day, almost in one piece.” – Danilo Petrucci

TRUCK CATEGORY

Battle for the lead: There’s a very strong possibility that the winner of the 2022 Dakar truck race will be a Team Kamaz Master driver, but which one? Defending champion Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) leads at the midway point from Eduard Nikolaev (RUS). Nikolaev has already driven to four Dakar victories so will experience count in the end? Or will Anton Shibalov (RUS) charge from third overall to take his first Dakar win?

“Because our truck is new we have been in testing mode this first week. Now we know how it performs on this terrain we will increase our speed in the second week and go on the attack.” – Eduard Nikolaev

Star performer: The truck race more than any other category at the Dakar is truly a team sport, and Team Kamaz Master exemplify the spirit of pulling together in the same direction. As always, the four drivers were seen getting their hands dirty on the Rest Day, mucking in with the mechanics and engineers to prepare their trucks for the second week.

T3 CATEGORY

Battle for the lead: Chaleco López (CHI) is on course to make it back-to-back victories in the side-by-side categories at the Dakar. Last year he dominated the T4 class and this year he leads the T3 race at the halfway point. Meanwhile, 2021 FIA World Cup winner Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) remains determined to defend her spot on the overall podium during the second week.

“Now we have another week and a lot more things will happen. At the moment we are happy with our result and how we are working as a team. We need to keep things like this and do our best in the second week.” – Cristina Gutiérrez

Star performer: Six stage wins in seven days of racing has got the entire bivouac talking about 19-year-old Seth Quintero (USA). The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver is out of the running for the overall lead due to mechanical issues on Stage 2. However, the teenager has since readjusted his goals and is aiming for a new target.

“This has probably been the most heartbreaking and rewarding week that will ever happen to me at Dakar. We’ve raced seven days now and got six wins, so we’re looking at breaking the record for most stage wins in a single Dakar.” – Seth Quintero

The racing gets back underway tomorrow with a timed special stage of 401km between Riyadh and Al Dawadimi. Stage 7 starts with around 100km of sand dunes as the Dakar convoy are thrown straight in at the deep end after the Rest Day.

2022 Dakar Rally Selected Standings

CAR RACE
1. N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) TOYOTA 20:37:24
2. Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) TOYOTA +48:54

3. S. LOEB (FRA) BRX +50:25
4. G. DE VILLIERS (ZAF) TOYOTA +51:56
5. L. ALVAREZ (ARG) TOYOTA +1:06:58

6. K. PRZYGONSKI (POL) MINI +1:16:25
14. M. EKSTROM (SWE) AUDI +2:41:22
20. C. DESPRES (FRA) PEUGEOT +3:17:14
25. C. SAINZ (ESP) AUDI +3:56:21
26. L. SANZ (ESP) MINI +4:17:34
71. S. PETERHANSEL (FRA) AUDI +68:16:20

BIKE RACE
1. S. SUNDERLAND (GBR) GAS GAS 19:55:59

2. M. WALKNER (AUT) KTM +02:39

3. D. SANDERS (AUS) GAS GAS +05:35
4. A. VAN BEVEREN (FRA) YAMAHA +07:43
5. P. QUINTANILLA (CHL) HONDA +17:44
7. S. SVITKO (SVK) KTM +24:29

8. K. BENAVIDES (ARG) KTM +24:56

12. T. PRICE (AUS) KTM +39:09

22. C. CHAPELIERE (FRA) KTM +1:27:18

39. M. BALOOSHI (UAE) HUSQVARNA +3:16:56

42. M. JAFFAR (KWT) KTM +4:06:17

124. D. PETRUCCI (ITA) KTM +19:21:24

TRUCK RACE
1. D. SOTNIKOV (RUS) KAMAZ 22:25:45
2. E. NIKOLAEV (RUS) KAMAZ +10:29
3. A. SHIBALOV (RUS) KAMAZ +38:17
4. J. VAN KASTEREN (NLD) IVECO +1:04:54
5. A. LOPRAIS (CZE) PRAGA +1:06:20
6. A. KARGINOV (RUS) KAMAZ +1:38:03

36. I. CASALE (CHI) IVECO +73:40:00

LIGHTWEIGHT PROTOTYPE (T3)
1. F. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) CAN-AM 24:19:17
2. S. ERIKSSON (SWE) CAN-AM +23:09
3. C. GUTIERREZ (ESP) OT3 +2:20:16

4. F. ALVAREZ (ESP) CAN-AM +2:25:22
5. P. PINCHEDEZ (FRA) CAN-AM +2:30:24
31. S. QUINTERO (USA) OT3 +16:08:27

QUOTES

Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We’re very happy to have a good lead after the first week of the rally. Now we just have to concentrate on managing the race during the second week of the Dakar.”

Sébastien Loeb: “Things are going quite OK for us this year. The car has improved a lot and it’s just quite amazing to drive. We’ve taken advantage of the new regulations allowing wider tyres. It makes driving the car a lot more exciting. It’s very fast and the feeling is good.”

Kuba Przygonski: “The last few days have been very long and tiring. It was actually a good week. We lost some time at the start, but were able to make a few changes to the Buggy and can now compete with the leaders again. We must push hard next week, as we still have time to make up.”

Laia Sanz: “The first week was an awesome experience. Sure, we had problems and lost time, but we are coping better with the MINI all the time and are gaining a lot of experience. Our goal for the coming week is always to finish in the top 30, in order to ensure we have a good starting position.”

Sam Sunderland: “It’s always good to be leading the Dakar. Even if it’s a slim advantage, it’s been the same for the past four or five days. I had a big crash on Stage 4 that took the wind out of my sails for a little bit. I’m going to use the Rest Day to get back some energy for a big fight in the second week.”

Matthias Walkner: “It’s been a good week for me. It took me a little time to get settled on the bike because I hadn’t ridden the new version so much, but with the help of the team, we made some really positive changes and I’m super happy with how things are now.”

Daniel Sanders: “I’m actually a little surprised with my speed and I’m happy with all the improvements that I’ve made so yeah, it’s been a solid first week. The ultimate goal is to win this thing but getting on the podium would be cool as well so we’ll see how it goes next week.”

Kevin Benavides: “It’s been a mixed first week for me, but overall, I’m happy with how I have ridden. Losing time on that first day was always going to be hard, but since then I have had a good pace and things have gone a lot better. My confidence with the bike is improving all the time, so I really believe I’m in a good position to attack the second week.”

Toby Price: “It’s been a very up and down first week for me. After day one I’ve been racing hard to try and get back on terms with the others, and so far, it’s going well. It’s been a tricky first week and so I’m expecting much of the same in week two – hopefully I’ve had my share of bad luck already so I can look forward to something good over the next six days.”

Danilo Petrucci: “It feels like in the last 10 days I have lived two lifetimes. Everything is new for me so I’m learning every second. I’m so happy to make it to the Rest Day, almost in one piece.”

Cristina Gutiérrez: “Now we have another week and a lot more things will happen. At the moment we are happy with our result and how we are working as a team. We need to keep things like this and do our best in the second week.”

Seth Quintero: “This has probably been the most heartbreaking and rewarding week that will ever happen to me at Dakar. We’ve raced seven days now and got six wins, so we’re looking at breaking the record for most stage wins in a single Dakar.”