Dakar Rally: Al Attiyah wins fourth title

Nasser Al-Attiyah
Nasser Al-Attiyah celebrates his triumph. Photo: AFP/Franck Fife

Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah won the Dakar Rally for the fourth time in the car category on Friday while British motorcycle rider Sam Sunderland took his second title.

Toyota factory driver Al Attiyah had led from the January 1 start in Saudi Arabia and finished in Jeddah 27 minutes and 46 seconds ahead of France's nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb.

Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi was third with the Overdrive Toyota team, his first podium finish in the event.

Al Attiyah won the Dakar when it was held in South America in 2011, 2015 and 2019 with Volkswagen, Mini and Toyota respectively.

He is now the joint-second most successful car driver in the history of the event, tied with Finland's four-time winner Ari Vatanen and behind France's eight-time winner Stephane Peterhansel who also won six times on a motorcycle.

"We had finished second every time since we came to Saudi Arabia two years ago, now we're really happy to achieve our goal," said the Qatari.

"We opened up a gap on the first day and have since managed our lead. We're really happy, and I reckon we'll start thinking of the next Dakar in a week or 10 days."

GasGas rider Sunderland, who took his first title in South America in 2017, finished three minutes and 27 seconds ahead of Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla on a Honda. Austrian Matthias Walkner was third for KTM.

"I honestly can't be happier. This last stage was so difficult and so much stress," said the Dubai-based 32-year-old after the 164km stage from Bisha to the Red Sea Port city of Jeddah.

"A lot of navigation, a lot of tricky notes, a few times a bit confusing and not sure if I was going the right way. Honestly, my head can explode. What a feeling.

"The last 10 minutes, I was not sure whether I'd won and now they've told me and, wow, dream come true."

Harith Noah completes third Dakar

Sherco TVS Racing Factory rider Harith Noah successfully completed his third Dakar. Noah, the only rider representing India finished the last day's Stage 12 at 23rd place in the gruelling race.

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