Red Bull : Ferocious speed deployed as tactic to tame the deserts of 2022 Dakar Rally

It’s only the second day of the 2022 Dakar Rally and already the leading contenders have decided that the best form of defence is full attack. Top speed over the dunes paid dividends for many on Stage 2 as big risks delivered big rewards during 339km against the clock.

Nowhere was out and out pace more in evidence than in the almighty scrap at the front of the car race on Stage 2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) got the bit between his teeth and hunted down Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), setting the day’s fastest time in the process. Nine-time WRC winner Loeb is no stranger to setting records and today his 15th Dakar stage win was also the first for Team BRX.

« It was a real tussle between Nasser and myself today. He was opening the road and was really pushing for all 340km. By the end of the stage I had caught him. » – Sébastien Loeb

Despite Al-Attiyah missing out on a third consecutive stage win, the Qatari does still retain his overall lead in the car category. Expectations are high in the bivouac for another battle tomorrow between the T1+ machines of Al-Attiyah and Loeb.

« We were able to go fast today and we always enjoy that. I think this will be an extremely fast Dakar all the way to the end. The performance of our T1+ is really fantastic. » – Nasser Al-Attiyah

It was a much better day for Audi Sport compared with their struggles yesterday. All three Audi RS Q e-tron machines placed inside the Top 10 of the car race on Stage 2. Carlos Sainz (ESP) led the team’s charge as he finished third, less than six minutes back from Loeb. 14-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) posted the day’s fifth fastest time, a result made all the more remarkable considering he didn’t get back to the bivouac last night until long after sunset. Completing a fine day for Audi’s trio was Mattias Ekström (SWE) who drove to ninth place on Stage 2.

« This is the first stage we finish without a technical problem and it feels really good. » – Stéphane Peterhansel

2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland (GBR) is out to make history. The Brit would become the first rider to win the Dakar bike race with two different brands since the legendary Richard Sainct (FRA) did it two decades ago. Sunderland is racing his first Dakar as a GasGas rider after a successful period with KTM (including his win in 2017). With two stages done in Saudi Arabia, Sunderland finds himself once again leading the bike category.

« I just tried to push all the way today. Again there was a lot of navigation with some tricky notes in the roadbook. » – Sam Sunderland

Third overall in the bike race is Sunderland’s GasGas Factory team-mate Daniel Sanders (AUS). It’s a remarkable start for the Spanish manufacturer that had never recorded a podium result on a Dakar stage before this edition of the rally.

« It was a wild start to the day, really fast. Directly after the first refuelling I got a bit lost. When I’d fixed the mistake I pushed as much as I could on the dunes to try and get back some time. » – Daniel Sanders

Leading the charge for the Red Bull KTM Factory Team is 2018 Dakar winner Matthias Walkner (AUT). Walkner is just four minutes back from race leader Sunderland. Today was also a far more enjoyable day for Walkner’s KTM Factory team-mates Kevin Benavides (ARG) and Toby Price (AUS) who both finished in the Top 5 on Stage 2.

« Today was a good day after yesterday’s disaster of a stage for me. It’s only the second day and already we have had our ups and downs. » – Kevin Benavides

Two-time Dakar truck race winner Andrey Karginov (RUS) put his foot down on today’s 339km timed special stage. Karginov’s result maintains the dominance of Team Kamaz Master at the rally. Karginov’s team-mates Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS), Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) and Anton Shibalov (RUS) all join today’s stage winner in the Top 4 of the truck race general classification.

It was a mixed day for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team. On the plus side, Guillaume de Mevius (BEL) battled back from yesterday’s long day in the dunes to win today’s stage.

« I was surprised at the finish line when they told us that we had won. We started so far back today that winning the stage wasn’t part of our plans. Yesterday we suffered a lot and lost so much time. It’s great to bounce back with my first ever Dakar stage win. » – Guillaume de Mevius

The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team also still have Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) fighting for a spot on the overall podium. However, the bad news for the team on Stage 2 was that both Seth Quintero (USA) and Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) came to a halt near the finish line and suffered significant time losses.

« The important thing was to finish the stage because we still have many days left in front of us. » – Cristina Gutiérrez

Tonight the Dakar convoy congregates at the Al Qaisumah bivouac due to the proposed Marathon bivouac at Al Artawiyah being washed out by heavy rains. No racing distance has been lost as a result of the weather and tomorrow’s 368km special stage remains in tact. Will pure pace once again win the day or will race leaders now look to protect their hard earned gains?

2022 Dakar Rally Standings after Stage 2
Car Race Top 5
1. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) – Toyota, 06:59:21
2. S. Loeb (FRA) – BRX, +09:16
3. L. Alvarez (ARG) – TOYOTA, +40:53
4. G. de Villiers (ZAF) – TOYOTA, +41:22
5. V. Vasilyev (RUS) – MINI, +43:39…

Bike Race Top 5
1. S. Sunderland (GBR) – Gas-Gas, 08:31:29
2. A. van Beveren (FRA) – Yamaha, +02:51
3. D. Sanders (AUS) – Gas-Gas, +03:29
4. M. Walkner (AUT) – KTM, +04:08
5. S. Howes (USA) – Husqvarna, +09:59…

Truck Race Top 5
1. D. Sotnikov (RUS) – Kamaz, 07:59:07
2. E. Nikolaev (RUS) – Kamaz, +02:07
3. A. Karginov (RUS) – Kamaz, +18:34
4. A. Shibalov (RUS) – Kamaz, +22:43
5. A. Loprais (CZE) – Praga, +31:11…

Lightweight Prototype (T3) Top 5
1. F. Llopez Contardo (CHL) – Can Am, 08:30:15
2. S. Erikson (SWE) – Can-Am, +07:22
3. P. Lebedev (RUS) – Can-Am, +23:48
4. C. Gutierrez (ESP) – OT3, +42:45
5. P. Pinchedez (FRA) – Can-Am, +48:19…

QUOTES
Sébastien Loeb: « It was a real tussle between Nasser and myself today. He was opening the road and was really pushing for all 340km. By the end of the stage I had caught him. »

Nasser Al-Attiyah: « We did well to open the road for the entire stage because the lines of the bikes were not easy to follow. We were able to go fast today and we always enjoy that. I think this will be an extremely fast Dakar all the way to the end. The performance of our T1+ is really fantastic. »

Carlos Sainz: « Everything went well for us today. Just a small problem with one bumper, but the rest was fine. »

Stéphane Peterhansel: « We had no problem with navigation today because there were lots of lines to follow. The rain had made the sand soft so we felt the car very heavy, but we got through the stage. This is the first stage we finish without a technical problem and it feels really good. »

Giniel de Villiers: « Things got difficult in the second part of the stage when we got to the broken dunes. We’re happy with our performance today. The rally is still open and there’s still a really long way to go. »

Kuba Przygoński: « It was a pretty stage and we enjoyed a long time in the car. We’re not as fast as we want to be so that’s something we will talk about with the engineers. »

Cyril Despres: « Today was not such a complicated stage. We had a good day in the desert. Just a few kilometres from the end of the stage there was one rock and we hit it, badly. It’s not an easy start to the Dakar, but this is the race. »

Sam Sunderland: « I just tried to push all the way today. Again there was a lot of navigation with some tricky notes in the roadbook. I caught up to the guys at the front and we all took turns in opening the road. »

Matthias Walkner: « I started third and had to pay attention when the two guys in front of me went the wrong way. I took some time to find the right way. Not a bad day for me. »

Daniel Sanders: « It was a wild start to the day, really fast. Directly after the first refuelling I got a bit lost. It turns out we were in a valley too far over to the left. When I’d fixed the mistake I pushed as much as I could on the dunes to try and get back some time. »

Kevin Benavides: « Today was a good day after yesterday’s disaster of a stage for me. I started at the back and pushed a lot. It was a really fast and physical stage. It’s only the second day and already we have had our ups and downs. »

Toby Price: « We had a much better day today, but we’ve still got plenty of time to make up after what happened to us yesterday. We’re at another finish line in one piece and the bike feels really good. We’ve got plenty more days to come so let’s see what happens. »

Camille Chapelière: « Today I was able to get some revenge on the course for what happened yesterday. I caught plenty of guys in front and kept pushing until the end. Now I’ll try to continue in this way. »

Mohammed Jaffar: « It was a great stage and I enjoyed every kilometre of it. I hope things can stay like this for the 10 days that we have left to go. »

Guillaume de Mevius: « I was surprised at the finish line when they told us that we had won. We started so far back today that winning the stage wasn’t part of our plans. Yesterday we suffered a lot and lost so much time. It’s great to bounce back with my first ever Dakar stage win. »

Cristina Gutiérrez: « It was another difficult stage for us. We had a problem with the jack and that cost us some minutes changing a tyre. After that we broke the clutch so we just tried to manage as best we could. The important thing was to finish the stage because we still have many days left in front of us. »

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