After stage two of the 2021 Dakar Rally, the lead has swapped hands with Stephane Peterhansel usurping Carlos Sainz for provisional first.
Monday’s 457km stage from Bisha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir was won by Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah – a three-time winner of the Dakar event.
Sainz admitted after Sunday’s opening stage win that he did not expect to retain his lead coming into yesterday. But the Spaniard did manage to maintain his eight-second advantage over Peterhansel until the 46km mark.
But once in front of his teammate, Peterhansel established a commanding 90-second lead as he neared the halfway-marker.
Still, even this buffer could not restrain the rapid Al-Attiyah who caught and passed Peterhansel with a little over 100km remaining.
The Qatari driver finished the stage over two minutes clear of Peterhansel. He now sits third in the general classification after only managing tenth yesterday.
“It was a good day,” said Al-Attiyah.
“Yesterday we lost a lot of time because we opened the way and it was not really good for us, and we didn’t take risks. But today we went flat out, and everything is working very, very well.”
Peterhansel’s lead over second-place Sainz has now been widened to 6m37s, with Sainz struggling over the final few waypoints.
“Today it was a very beautiful stage,” Peterhansel said.
“The desert was much more open. This morning there was a little, or rather a lot, of stress because it was the first dunes, but also the car was full of diesel which meant it was really heavy. So, the priority was not to get stuck. After that, I have to say that we navigated well.”
Nine-times world rally champion Sebastian Loeb was sixth fastest on the stage, an improvement after punctures and errors on Sunday.
Toby Price experienced a dismal second stage in the bike category, losing almost 30-minutes of his erstwhile lead.
Taking the reins from the KTM rider were Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort and Ricky Brabec. Both had got lost on Sunday but made amends over night with a convincing 1-2 finish.
For Price, the Australian has slumped to 15th in the overall standings.