Saudi Arabia

Saudi: Al-Attiyah retains Dakar Rally title; Benavides wins bike sprint

Nasser al-Attiyah won a second straight Dakar Rally just kilometres from his Qatar homeland on Sunday.

His fifth Dakar title eclipsed Ari Vatanen’s total and was second only to Stephane Peterhansel, the Dakar’s greatest champion with 14 wins, eight in the premier car category.

Al-Attiyah led the Dakar for the last 13 of its 15 days in Saudi Arabia, from the Red Sea to the Arabian Gulf.

Sebastien Loeb, the nine-time world rally champion chasing his first Dakar success, was second in successive years, more than 80 minutes behind.

Lucas Moraes of Brazil was third, the first rookie on the podium in 35 years.

Argentine rider Kevin Benavides won his second motorbike title by beating KTM teammate Toby Price by 43 seconds after more than 4,000 kilometers in one of the closest finishes in the rally’s history.

They were the last riders to start the 136-kilometre 14th stage on the coast east of al-Hofuf.

Benavides, trailing Price by 12 seconds overall, wiped that out by the first checkpoint. By halfway, he was nearly two minutes ahead of the Australian two-time champion. Price came back but Benavides won the stage by 55 seconds.

He won in 2021 and was up front last year until his engine blew on stage 10. Like al-Attiyah, Benavides was in the top three from stage three, but made his biggest push on Saturday after stopping to help stricken teammate Matthias Walkner, the 2018 champion.


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