The pulse between Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al Attiyah for the Tuareg of 2023 begins to take shape. The Qatari answered yesterday's victory in the first stage with a victory on the second day, a 430 km special, on the fast rocky tracks that reached Al-Ula.
The Qatari beat the Dutchman Erik Van Loon by just 14 seconds on a day in which some of the big shots like Sébastien Loeb failed. Despite the victory, with 5 minutes over Sainz, the man from Madrid maintains the lead by a 2-minute margin.
By winning the first stage, Sainz had to open the track with his Audi. Despite receiving encouragement and good luck from his son, at the start of the stage, the first stony section did not go well, in which he dropped 4m53s with the Dutchman Erik Van Loon, the fastest of the day, leading the attack of the Toyota Hilux.
At that first control (km 48), De Villiers, another Toyota, set the best time, followed by Nasser Al Attiyah at 1m12s (who was 3m10s ahead of Sainz), and was close on his heels by Stéphane Peterhansel and Prokop.
However, the most affected of the day was Sébastien Loeb (Hunter), who gave up almost four minutes with Sainz at the second waypoint (km 105). At that point, Van Loon was still leading, with Loeb 26th at almost 9 minutes. The Frenchman would end the fatal day, 36th, losing an hour and a half.
Erik Van Loon, who had started 74th, was the provisional leader for most of the stage, leading the Toyota fleet. Upon reaching the last checkpoint prior to the finish line, at kilometer 386, he led Al Attiyah by 1m34s and Sainz by 5m30s.
In the last 44 kilometres, the Qatari pushed the accelerator to the full to recover the deficit and win by just 14 seconds over the Dutchman, leaving the man from Madrid at 5m05s.
With this result, Sainz maintains his lead by 2m12s over the Qatari (who had been 6th in the first stage, giving up more than 7 minutes to the Spaniard), while Mathieu Serradori (Century) appears in third provisional position at 24m54s, after the carnage of favourites.