Toyota’s driver Nasser Al Attiyah (right) and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel celebrate after winning the Dakar Rally 2022 on Friday.
Gulf Today Report
Bahrain Raid Xtreme rounded off the 44th Dakar Rally with a place in the record books as Nasser Al Attiyah secured his fourth victory in the event on Friday.
Sebastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin took their BRX Prodrive Hunter to the fourth best time on the 164 km stage from Bisha to Jeddah to secure second place overall, as Attiyah won the world’s most demanding rally by 27 mins 46 secs.
Attiyah, already champion in 2011, 2015 and 2019, took the overall honours by almost half an hour from France’s nine-time world rally champion Loeb.
British motorbike rider Sam Sunderland claimed his second Dakar Rally crown earlier in the day.
The final stage was marred by tragedy as 20-year-old French mechanic Quentin Lavallee was killed in a car accident.
Attiyah — also a bronze medallist in skeet shooting at the 2012 London Olympics — led from start to finish to secure his first win in Saudi Arabia after two runners-up spots.
“It was an incredible Dakar for us,” said the 51-year-old Toyota driver.
“We hadn’t won since 2019. There were three solid teams capable of winning. Matthieu (Baumel his French co-driver) and I, the team, we all did a good job to win.
“We had finished second every time since we came to Saudi Arabia two years ago, now we’re really happy to achieve our goal.
“The whole race went without a hitch.”
With the stage win going to South African Henk Lategan, Loeb’s BRX team-mates Orlando Terranova and Dani Oliveras cruised to sixth place on the day to record a fourth place outright finish, the Argentine driver’s best Dakar result to date.
Nani Roma and Alex Haro also brought their Prodrive Hunter home to make BRX the first top Dakar team to complete the rally with a full complement of cars running on next generation advanced sustainable fuel.
It has been a highly impressive competitive debut for the new Hunter T1+, with all three BRX cars in Saudi Arabia powered by the Prodrive EcoPower fuel which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to petrol.
Loeb said at the finish: “It was a good rally. We lost some time at the beginning with some technical problems. After that we really pushed hard to close the gap with Nasser, but he did a really good job so it was impossible. But we finished second in a great rally, so it’s not so bad.”
Terranova said: “That was a fantastic rally. The team work was genuinely incredible as it felt like a family from the beginning.
“The first week maybe we lost a little bit of time but in the second week we made some great stage times. I feel very comfortable as the car is fantastic and the human relationship in the team is great for our job.”
The Dakar Rally was the opening round of the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship which continues in March with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge ahead of the other rounds in Kazakhstan, Spain and Morocco.