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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Jan 4, (AP): Nasser Al- Attiyah won the second stage of the Dakar Rally as the leaders took on a familiar look on Monday. Al-Attiyah, who started 10th on the 457-kilometer (284-mile) sandy special in southern Saudi Arabia from Bisha to Wadi ad-Dawasir, took over the stage lead after about 300 kilometers and beat home Stephane Peterhansel by 2-1/2 minutes. Carlos Sainz, the defending champion who opened the stage, slipped to sixth but rallied and finished third, more than nine minutes off the pace.
Peterhansel took the race lead overall, his Mini teammate Sainz was 6-1/2 minutes back in second, and Al-Attiyah’s Toyota was third, nine minutes down. Between the three of them, they have won 10 of the last 11 Dakars, and are favored to win the second race in Saudi. “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,” Al-Attiyah said. “But today we went fl at out and everything is working very, very well.”
Sebastien Loeb, the nine-time world rally champion who skipped the Dakar last year after finishing third in 2019, improved from 17th to sixth overall. In the motorbike category, Joan Barreda dominated from the first time checkpoint and won. Ricky Brabec, the defending champion, was second, and that’s also how they lined up overall. Ross Branch, fourth on the stage, was third overall, six minutes back. Toby Price of Australia, the stage one winner, fell to 15th overall, and Matthias Walkner of Austria, the 2018 champion, lost more than two hours repairing a mechanical problem and fell from third to 46th.