Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Nasser Al-Attiyah has won his fourth Dakar Rally championship after a strong performance in the 2022 Dakar event held in Saudi Arabia.

Al Attiyah, who had missed the championship the previous two years, led the 44th Dakar from start to finish in the new Toyota Hilux T1+, finally winning by 27m46s over Prodrive’s Sebastien Loeb.

While he won only two of the 12 stages, both in the first week, the Qatari driver showed remarkable consistency throughout the rally while his rivals had navigational or mechanical problems. Al Attiyah’s win was largely due to finding a tricky waypoint during the opening stage near Ha’il with co-driver Matthieu Baumel, which caught out the vast majority of drivers, including Audi’s Carlos Sainz.

The result left Sebastien Loeb as the only main challenger to Al-Attiyah, but the Frenchman was also forced to catch up with the race leader after his Prodrive BRX Hunter propshaft broke on Stage 3, costing him time.

Al-Attiyah is now tied with Ari Vatanen as the second most successful driver in the history of the Dakar’s cars category, trailing Stephane Peterhansel’s eight victories.

Al Attiyah was 50 minutes ahead of the rest of the competition by Stage 6 of the rally, courtesy to a second victory in Stage 4, while Loeb’s hopes of a first Dakar victory were further harmed by navigational problems.

By the end of the penultimate stage, Loeb had narrowed the time margin from Al Attiyah to 30 minutes. However the Frenchman got a five-minute penalty for overspeeding but Al Attiyah was never in danger of losing the lead because he controlled his pace with a risk-free approach.

The Qatari driver finished 19th in the short 164-kilometer Stage 12 between Bisha and Jeddah, clinching his first Dakar victory since the rally moved to Saudi Arabia, with his previous three victories coming in 2011 with Volkswagen, 2015 with X-raid Mini and 2019 with his current team.

Sebastien Loeb took second place in Dakar, but an overall victory remains elusive for the nine-time WRC winner after six appearances in the last seven years. The Frenchman was a consistent front-runner in the BRX Hunter, winning two stages as Al-Attiyah, but he was never able to recover from an “assembly blunder” in Stage 3 as stated by Prodrive’s David Richards.

In the Overdrive Toyota, Yazeed Al Rajhi finished third behind Loeb on the overall podium. After being announced as a late addition to Prodrive’s line-up, Orlando Terranova finished an amazing fourth in his 16th consecutive involvement in the Dakar Rally.

Giniel De Villiers made a great comeback to place fifth overall. The South African’s best result came in Stage 9, when he led a Toyota 1-2-3 ahead of Al-Attiyah and Henk Lategan. During the second stage of the Dakar, Giniel De Villiers was involved in two motorbike accidents, leaving him out of contention for a top 10 finish. He had been handed a harsh penalty for the second bike incident but was however cleared.

2022 Dakar Rally – Overall classification

Pos.Driver Car Time 
Nasser Al-AttiyahToyota38hr33m03s
Sebastien LoebProdrive39hr00m49s
Yazeed Al-RajhiToyota39hr34m16s
Orlando TerranovaProdrive40hr00m26s
Giniel De VilliersToyota40hr14m51s
Jakub PrzygonskiMini/BMW40hr26m09s
Mathieu SerradoriCentury41hr05m08s
Sebastian HalpernMini/BMW41hr11m29s
Mattias EkströmAudi41hr15’m4s
10 Vaidotas ZalaMini/BMW42hr04m58s
11 Carlos SainzAudi42hr12m24s
12 Michael PisanoOptimus42hr14m03s
13 Brian BaragwanathCentury42hr24m29s
14 Shameer VariawaToyota42hr28m36s
15 Christian LavieilleOptimus42hr35m45s
16 Bernhard Ten BrinkeToyota43hr18m43s
17 Lucio AlvarezToyota43hr29m39s
18 Cyril DespresPeugeot43hr31m25s
19 Ronan ChabotToyota44hr21m49s
20 Martin ProkopFord45hr17m12s

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