Dakar Rally 2022, Day 4: Overall leader Nasser Al-Attiyah wins stage after penalty

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Nasser Al-Attiyah maintained a hold of the overall lead on Day 4 of the 2022 Dakar Rally, picking up a stage victory in the car division Wednesday.

The win initially was awarded to Yazeed Al Rajhi, but a 2-minute penalty for speeding bumped the Saudi Arabia native to fifth. Al Rajhi still climbed to third overall, just over 49 minutes behind Al-Attiyah.

Sebastien Loeb finished second in Wednesday’s 707-kilometer stage from Al Qaisumah to Riyadh and is second in the overall rankings to Al-Attiyah, who leads by 38 minutes through four of 12 stages.

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Losing the victory actually was a satisfactory result for Al Rajhi, who didn’t want to start first Thursday because bikes won’t be preceding the cars (and leaving their tracks) in Stage 5. “We were trying not to go too fast to avoid having to open the stage tomorrow because there won’t be any motorbikes in front,” Al Rajhi said.

That also was the plan for Al-Attiyah, though the three-time Dakar Rally champion still felt confident.

“We are moving in the right direction day after day,” Al-Attiyah said. “We tried to set a high pace, but our plan was not having to open tomorrow because there will be no bikes and, therefore, no tracks. But even if we falter a bit tomorrow in these conditions, it will put us in a favorable position for the next day.”

Loeb lost only 25 seconds to the lead and was pleased to be starting Stage 5 behind Al-Attiyah.

“Finishing behind Nasser today to start behind him tomorrow is a good trade-off,” Loeb said. “There won’t be any bikes at the front, so the first cars will regroup, so it’s not bad at all. Tomorrow will be difficult: a big stage where things can happen. At any rate, our confidence in the car has been restored. It was a clean special.”

In the bikes class, Joan Barreda Bort scored his second stage victory of 2022 while Sam Sunderland held an overall lead of 3 minutes. Ricky Brabec was the highest-finishing American in the stage with a 10th, and the 2020 overall winner is just under 55 minutes off the lead.

“We’re doing great,” Brabec said. “Everything was good. I started out seventh today and made a strong push to try and make a little bit of time. Unfortunately, I suffered a small speeding penalty. Other than that, the stage was good. Happy to be here with no mistakes. Happy to also keep the bike on the wheels. I haven’t dropped them once, so that’s all good.

“Still a long rally to go. We’ll see how things shape up here at the end of the week before rest day, and then after rest day, we’ll keep pushing until the end and try to get within striking distance of the podium. It’s going to be tough, we’ve got our work cut out for us, but it can happen.”

In the lightweight division, Seth Quintero, 19, won his second consecutive stage and fourth overall, but the American remained more than 16 hours behind the lead after major mechanical problems in Stage 2.

Here are the stage winners and the top three overall in each category after Day 4:

Car

Stage 4 winner: Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 3:54:40. Overall: 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 13:26:02; 2. Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Extreme, 14:04:07; 3. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU), Overdrive Toyota, 14:15:17.

Bike

Stage 4 winner: Joan Barreda Bort (ESP), 4:07:06. Overall: 1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GasGas Factory Racing, 15:30:01; 2. Matthias Walkner (AUS), GasGas Factory Racing, 15:33:01; 3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, 15:34:55. Other U.S. notables: 8. Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Racing, 15:45:17; 12. Andrew Short, Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, 16:08:32; 14. Mason Klein, BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team, 16:10:44; 18. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda, 16:24:59.

Truck

Stage 4 winner: Eduard Nikolaev (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 4:14:46. Overall: 1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), Kamaz-Master 15:02:53; 2. Eduard Nikolaev (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 15:09:03; 3. Anton Shibalov (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 15:27:58.

Light prototype

Stage 4 winner: Seth Quintero (USA), 4:25:13. Overall: 1. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL), EKS — South Racing, 16:08:33; 2. Sebastian Eriksson (SWE), EKS — South Racing, 16:29:32; 3. Fernando Alvarez (ESP), South Racing Can-Am, 18:11:07.

SSV

Stage 4 winner: Rodrigo Luppi De Oliveira (BRA), 4:44:05 . Overall: 1. Austin Jones (USA), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 16:38:08; 2. Rodrigo Luppi De Oliveira (BRA), South Racing Can-Am, 16:43:21; Michal Goczal (POL), 16:54:41.

Quad

Stage 4 winner: Aleksandr Maksimov (RAF), Chyr Mari, 5:10:28. Overall: 1. Pablo Copetti (USA), Del Amo Motorsports/Yamaha Rally Team, 19:25:41; 2. Alexandre Giroud (FRA), Yamaha Racing – SMX -Drag’on, 19:40:01; 3. Aleksandr Maksimov (RAF), Chyr Mari, 19:50:36.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.