2023 Dakar Rally: Al-Rajhi wins Stage 7 as Al-Attiyah plays safe

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Credit: Marcelo Machado de Melo/ASO

Nasser Al-Attiyah entered Stage #7 of the Dakar Rally leading the Cars overall by well over an hour. It was such a large gap that he was still ahead by more than one hour despite a stage finish outside the top ten.

Al-Attiyah finished the seventh leg in fourteenth, his worst run since he was thirteenth in a rain-shortened Stage #3. However, he was in no rush in the big picture: fellow Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Henk Lategen was second in the T1 classification by 1:06:50 prior to the leg, but the gap only decreased by three minutes and forty-six seconds afterwards.

With Al-Attiyah playing it safe, Yazeed Al-Rajhi avenged his Stage #6 retirement to win with a nearly nine-minute gap on Vaidotas Žala. It was Al-Rajhi’s first Dakar leg win since Stage #10 in 2021 while Žala enjoyed his best run in a rollercoaster of a Rally in which he has either finished at least eleventh or retired.

While the Toyotas continued their strong Dakar, the Team Audi Sport trio’s woes persisted. As Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz were still reeling from their wreck in the sixth leg, Audi’s third driver Mattias Ekström suffered mechanical failure while leading.

“It’s so disappointing to be out of the race,” said Peterhansel. “Even with some small issues we were still fighting for the lead. If I had won this Dakar the plan was to then retire. To go out on a high.”

Red Bull’s Mitch Guthrie and Rokas Baciuška respectively won the T3 and T4 classes for the third time each.

The Bikes did not race Stage #7 after it was called off due to weather and rider fatigue in an especially difficult race. Officially, however, the stage is considered to be a liaison-only leg for the FIM categories spanning 476 km with a seven-hour time limit for transit to the next bivouac.

Stage #7 winners

T1202Yazeed Al-RajhiOverdrive Racing3:06:23
T2246Akira Miura*Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body4:30:34
T3314Mitch GuthrieRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team3:39:37
T4400Rokas BaciuškaRed Bull Can-Am Factory Team3:45:34
T5502Janus van KasterenBoss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO3:35:10
Classic776Paolo Bedeschi*Bedeschi-Bottallo26 points
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Leaders after Stage #7

T1200Nasser Al-AttiyahToyota Gazoo Racing27:26:23
T2250Ronald Basso*Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body51:08:51
T3304Guillaume de Mevius*GRallyTeam31:43:12
T4400Rokas BaciuškaRed Bull Can-Am Factory Team33:08:46
T5508Aleš Loprais*InstaForex Loprais Praga32:22:56
RallyGP10Skyler HowesHusqvarna Factory Racing26:31:52
Rally217Romain DumontierTeam Dumontier Racing28:09:19
Malle Moto40Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing31:23:12
Quad151Alexandre Giroud*Drag’on Rally Team32:58:54
Classic778Juan Morera*Toyota Classic233 points

Official stage highlights

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