Carlos Sainz he started with great ambitions in this 44th edition of the Dakar like Audi, a giant that made his debut in the raid with a vehicle equipped with hybrid propulsion (essentially electric since the only heat engine is used to recharge the batteries). The matador found himself out of the game for the final success from the first stage where he lost over two hours due to navigation problems according to Audi due to errors in the drafting of the roadbook delivered to all crews at the beginning of the stage.
The three-time winner of the Dakar (with Volkswagen, Peugeot and Mini), redeemed himself by winning the third stage, but yesterday during the sixth he again suffered a important delay due to numerous drawbacks. First he had a problem with his shock absorber – the same reason why Audi had sacrificed Stephane Peterhansel, vying for the stage win, to transfer the suspension of the Frenchman’s RS Q eTron to that of the Spaniard the previous day – then Sainz lost a wheel in motion accusing a total of 40 minutes of posting.
Peterhansel’s knockouts and Sainz’s problems had immediately placed the Dakar as a two-way race between Loeb and Al-Attiyah. The French driver, however, lost almost half an hour during the third stage (disputed for 250 km out of 260 with only two-wheel drive) and yesterday the race opened together with Thursday’s winner Henk Lategan. The two got lost, with Loeb paying 21 minutes from brand mate and winner Orlando Terranova and another 15 against Nasser Al-Attiyah, who at the turning point of the Dakar finds himself 50 minutes ahead of the Al Rahji-Loeb couple. A very serious mortgage on the final victory for the Toyota Qatari, who will have to keep away from macroscopic errors and, above all, remind the mechanics to connect the black box of the Magneti Marelli to the control unit in order not to incur the disqualification currently suspended.
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