Nasser Al-Attiyah just added a fourth Dakar title to his resume. The Qatari driver, racing for the Toyota Gazoo Racing Team, had a comfortable lead in the rally all week. His closest competitor, Sebastien Loeb finished second overall. Al-Attiyah received a five-minute penalty during stage eight for a seat belt infraction. Al-Attiyah also received a suspended disqualification after stage two for not having his data logger properly connected. The Toyota team quickly rectified the problem and Al-Attiyah was required to pay a fine. The penalties did not faze him as he pressed forward extending his lead over the final days.
Sam Sunderland is celebrating in the bike class as well. After lead changes, Sunderland made history for the GasGas team. This is the motorcycle company’s first ever victory at the iconic event. Sunderland won the Dakar in 2017 and this marks his second victory. Sunderland took over the lead after the second stage and held it to stage six. Putting his head down, he continued to go to work with flawless riding days and consistent finishes, even with all of the pressure. 2020 champion Ricky Brabec finished second.
This win feels better than the first as this victory was anything but easy. The times were so close this year and there was no time to let off the gas, it was a really close race, right to the end. All of the hard work, the sacrifices, and everything that the GASGAS team has done for me makes it all worthwhile. It’s been five years since my first Dakar win, and it’s been a long time to wait! I’m super happy to get another win and claim the first one for GASGAS. Everyone on the team has worked so hard to achieve this and it’s a true team effort – together we got the job done. Amazing,” said Sunderland.
Austin Jones also managed to get the overall victory in the side-by-side class for Can Am. Jones is the youngest American to win an overall class title. Jones had dropped to second in the standings after transmission problems in Stage 11.
Photos courtesy of A.S.O. and GasGas