LOEB CLOSES IN
If Nasser Al-Attiyah is a serial winner for the 2022 edition of the World Championship, which recently got under way, he has met his match! Sébastien Loeb's return to the circuit promises a thrilling confrontation between the Toyota Gazoo Racing and the BRX. Loeb bagged 5 points for the stage win for the second time and inched closer to the Qatari, who has 24 to the Frenchman's 23. In the T3 race, Quintero scored 5 points, "Chaleco" 4 and Gutiérrez 3. The American tops the leader board with 30 points to the Chilean's 25. In the T4 competition, Can-Am Factory South Racing's Aron Domżała has narrowed the gap to the Goczał Bros., but Michał still leads with 22 points to his name. In the T5 category, Big Shock's Martin Macík (33 points) remains on top of things ahead of Kees Koolen (26). Finally, in the motorbike race, GasGas's hopes of reaping a double dividend from Sanders and Sunderland for the constructor standings, which will be calculated on the evening of the finish, were shattered by the Australian's premature exit from the event.
Sébastien Loeb’s counterattack on the day’s stage was not in vain on all fronts. The second placed driver in the general rankings was the quickest of the participants in the world rally-raid championship. The five points he won have enabled him to overtake Al-Attiyah and the score is 28-25, with the ball in Loeb’s court tomorrow morning! It was a poor harvest for their nearest pursuers, but a very interesting one for Mathieu Serradori in his Century buggy, who climbs onto the second step of the day’s podium. This allows the South African constructor to tie with Mini. Indeed, Przygoński put his X-Raid Mini at the bottom of the podium, with the scores at 7 points each for the SRT driver and the Pole. At the same time as he has been dazzling everybody with his festival of stage wins, Seth Quintero has also been pulling away from “Chaleco” López each day and now leads him by 35 points to 29. In the T4 class, victory once again went to Marek Goczał, who leads his brother Michał by 2 points and Austin Jones by 4 points on the day’s world rally-raid championship podium. Lastly, in the T5 class, Martin Macík is still in magical form, with a total that has now risen to 38 points. Šoltys will have to keep a watchful eye on Koolen who has settled into 2nd place in the championship over the last four days with a total of 30 points.
LOEB OVERTAKES AL-ATTIYAH AGAIN
In the world rally-raid championship, Al-Attiyah and Loeb both picked up a healthy number of points: 5 for Nasser and 4 for Loeb, who keeps the championship lead with 32 points against 30 for the Qatari. SRT’s Mathieu Serradori sustained his momentum from the previous day and moved into the day’s top 3 of competitors enrolled in the W2RC, allowing him to tie with Lucio Alvarez and his Toyota Overdrive for 5th position in the championship. After a dearth of two days, Nani Roma gained 2 points that bring him closer to Al Rajhi.
In the T3 class, Quintero picked up 5 points for the 7th consecutive stage. Cristina Gutiérrez and “Chaleco” shared the rest of the podium places in that order. The Chilean from Can-Am South Racing is on 32 points, whilst the American on the Red Bull Off Road Junior Team is on 40 with his female colleague on 22 points. Fernando Alvarez pocketed 2 points and has drawn level with De Mévius on a total of 9 points.
In the T4 class, Marek Goczał gained a 4th victory, this time ahead of the official Can-Am driven by South Racing’s Austin Jones and in front of his brother Michał from Cobant-Energylandia Rally Team. In the championship table, Marek boasts 31 points, his brother Michał is on 27 and the American has 26.
In the truck category, the boss of Big Shock Racing, Martin Macík was the best of the competitors enrolled on the W2RC for the 8th time. He has the highest number of points in all the categories with a massive 48! 13 points separate him from Kees Koolen and Maryin Šoltys trails him by 20 points.
WOMEN SHINE IN T3
In the T1 World Championship, Sébastien Loeb is taking advantage of Al-Attiyah's somewhat cautious approach to bag one batch of 5 points after another. 5 points is also the difference in favour of the Frenchman, who has a total of 37, in the ranking. Przygoński claimed his first second-place finish in the Championship to pull level with Serradori, who only scored a single point. Lucio Álvarez expanded his gap to these two with an extra 2 points in his bag.
In the T3 competition, Quintero took his tenth stage win, but the spotlight was on the women thanks to Cristina Gutiérrez's second place among the W2RC entrants and Saudi Dania Akeel, who opened her account.
In the T4 championship, Lithuanian Rokas Baciuška landed the biggest W2RC haul of the day and is now neck and neck with Pole Aron Domżała in fifth place, with 19 points apiece. Michał Goczał benefited from his brother's troubles to snap up 3 points and pull closer to him. He is now second with 30 points, one fewer than Marek.
In the T5 competition, Macík outperformed Koolen and Vratný in the fight for championship points for the sixth day in a row.
Finally, in the motorbike category, Quintanilla and Barreda (Honda), Sunderland (GasGas) and Walkner (KTM) look set to get their hands on the first points of the 2022 season with two days to go. Four men, three brands —the game is on.
THE LION’S SHARE FOR ÁLVAREZ AND ROMA
In T1, Loeb and Al-Attiyah’s pursuers treated themselves to the lion’s share. Lucio Álvarez (Toyota Overdrive) and Nani Roma (BRX) dominated the participants in the world rally-raid championship by gobbling up 5 and 4 points respectively. With a total of 17 and 18 points, the Argentinean and Spaniard are now hot on the heels of provisionally third placed Yazeed Al Rajhi and his 19 points. It is almost a case of status quo between the two dominant males in the discipline: 39-27 in favour of Loeb ahead of Al-Attiyah.
In T3, Quintero has left his chasers in his wake by achieving 9 consecutive successes. He now boasts 50 points against 36 for “Chaleco”. Saudi driver Dania Akeel has started to get used to writing her name into the FIA’s points tables! Like yesterday, she pocketed a point today, as did Lionel Costes who now possesses 5 of them ahead of Dania.
In T4, there was a 5th success for Marek Goczał. Rokas Baciuška followed on his heels, gaining the upper hand over Aron Domżała by moving up into 5th position in the category. Austin Jones, with 2 pts, has moved level with Michał Goczał and both have 30 points each, joint second behind leader Marek and his 36 points.
In T5, Martin Macík accomplished is 7th consecutive success ahead of Kees Koolen. The heavyweights of the category total 53 points and 42 points respectively.
THE RACE GOES ON...
- The Dakar, the opening round of the W2RC, has come to an end after 12 stages in which the drivers, riders and crews fought to get their hands on the famous Bedouin trophy, as well as earning the first points towards a ranking that will continue to take shape in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March, followed by the Kazakhstan Rally in April, the Andalucía Rally in June and, finally, the Rallye du Maroc in October.
- Nasser Al-Attiyah leads the car ranking. Together with the points gained by his Overdrive teammate Yazeed Al-Rajhi, his performance propelled Toyota Gazoo Racing to the summit of the provisional constructor standings. In the T3 category, "Chaleco" López could not have asked for a more auspicious start to his adventure in a lightweight prototype. In the T4 category, Austin Jones leads after the first round. In the T5 category, Martin Macík and his yellow truck left the competition fighting for scraps. In the motorbike category, Sunderland sits at the top of the rider ranking, but Honda dominates the constructor classification for now.
- It comes as no surprise to see the overall winners top the standings, but their advantage is nowhere near insurmountable, setting the stage for a series packed with varied landscapes and dramatic turnarounds throughout the 2022 season.
- Behind the main contenders, the design of the Championship makes sure that the drivers and riders who race for teams that contribute to the depth and diversity of the international field are also in the mix: the Century buggies, with Serradori, have already stepped into the fray, as have the Sherco and Hero motorbikes, and they are all ready to pounce on every opportunity to make life difficult for the heavy hitters.