DAKAR. Loeb wins seven stages, but sees Qatari Al-Attiyah take his fifth overall victory

The 2023 Dakar would be another battle between Toyota, Prodrive and Audi. The German brand took part for the first time in 2022 to gain experience, in this edition it went full for victory. But that turned out differently. Peterhansel and Sainz crashed and both had to retire. Mattias Ekström was weighed and found to be too light to win this competition.

The stage. ©AFP

Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin won seven stages in this Dakar, including six in a row, a record. But the duo lost all chances for overall victory at the start of the Dakar when they punctured three times in one stage. After a great catch-up race, they still finished second, a good start to the World Rally Raid Championship.

The overall victory in the Dakar was for reigning world champion Nasser Al-Attiyah. In his backyard, the Qatari actually lost in the first stage, so he opened with eighth place. The next day he put things in order and won his first stage in the Dakar. In the end, he would win three of them, making for 47 stage wins in his career. That is two less than Peterhansel and three less than Ari Vatanen. Al-Attiyah took the lead after the third stage, not to relinquish it. Given the competition’s problems, he was soon able to control the game. He left the stage victories to the other riders.

Al-Attiyah’s chariot. © EPA-EFE

Looking for Peterhansel

For the Qatari, it is his fifth overall victory in the Dakar after 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2022. This brings him within three overall victories of Peterhansel, who won the Dakar eight times for the cars, fourteen times in total if you add the six overall victories for the motorcycles. With four Toyotas in the top five, the Japanese brand showed that it is still competitive after all these years. The Belgian Overdrive Racing, which, together with the official Toyota Gazoo Racing, was responsible for the maintenance of the cars and the tactical discussions with the drivers, has a significant share in this overall victory. For Jean-Marc Fortin, the Belgian team manager of Overdrive Racing, it is his third overall victory in the Dakar.

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Pierre Lachaume and François Beguin rode their first Dakar together and did an excellent job with a great thirteenth place in the final standings. Olivier Imschoot formed a duo with Hugues Moilet (Optimus). They are still on their way, but without accidents they also reach the finish of their first Dakar together. If that is the case, Imschoot will reach the finish line in the Dakar for the third time in a row.

Alexandre Giroud leads the quads from start to finish

In the quads, the overall victory went to Alexandre Giroud (Yamaha). The Frenchman led from start to finish. In the final standings he has a bonus of 43:11 over first pursuer Francisco Moreno Flores (Yamaha). Ten of the eighteen quads that started made it to the finish.

Alexandre Giroud got off to a scorching start. The Frenchman won the prologue and the four subsequent stages. After five days in the Dakar, he already had a bonus of almost 50 minutes on first pursuer Francisco Moreno Flores, who would eventually finish second. From that moment on, Giroud, who had no technical problems, was able to control. For Giroud it is his second overall victory in the Dakar after 2022. The Italian Pablo Copetti (Yamaha) was third on the podium.

Giroud. ©AFP

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