Loeb's Pursuit Dakar Triumph Stage7 2024
Sébastien Loeb Secures Third Win in Dakar 2024. | PHOTO: PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP

Loeb Trails Sainz in Dakar Rally, Eyes First Victory


Sebastien Loeb still has five stages left in the 46th Dakar Rally for a potential first victory in the marathon classic. Following his third fastest time in 2024, he remains 19 minutes behind Carlos Sainz.

Sainz maintained his lead in the seventh stage with the Audi RS Q-etron, keeping alive his hope for a fourth Dakar Rally win at 61 years old. However, behind him is Sebastien Loeb, eager to claim his first win in the legendary marathon classic in his ninth start with the Prodrive Hunter. Battling fiercely in the fifth Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, Loeb, with his 26th fastest time and third day win of 2024, has cut down his gap from 29 to 19 minutes. This performance puts last year’s runner-up, now in the same position for 2024 after Mattias Ekström’s misfortune, in contention for not only his first win but also Prodrive’s inaugural victory in the desert. The nine-time record-holding rally champion Loeb still has a chance to triumph.

Moraes Chases Podium at Dakar

Similar to the previous year, then with German Timo Gottschalk, Brazilian Lucas Moraes is heading towards the podium in the now official Toyota Hilux of Gazoo Racing, but is 1h00’35” behind Sainz.

The 46th Dakar Rally commenced its second week with its fifth edition in Saudi Arabia following the rest day in Riyadh, featuring the longest stage. The seventh of twelve stages spanned 873 km from Riyadh to Al Duwadimi, where the Dakar Rally spent the night of Sunday, January 7, 2024, including a 483 km run in the seventh stage. After a well-deserved rest day for the remaining competitors, this mixed-stage plunged them back into the thick of the action. The first part was a maze of canyons with constant directional changes. Finally, experienced dune surfers had the opportunity to showcase their skills in an intensive dune section.

Some started the second week of the rally with six restful exams and renewed energy. American Seth Quintero, aged 21, and his German co-driver Dennis Zenz truly began their maiden four-wheel journey in the Toyota Hilux. By km 134, they were leading the virtual daily standings, 28 seconds ahead of Guerlain Chicherit and a minute in front of Lucas Moraes, both also driving the Toyota Hilux. The leader, Carlos Sainz, was in eighth position in the Audi RS Q-etron, trailing by a significant 5:25 minutes. At that time, Mattias Ekström, his Audi colleague and previously second in the overall standings, was at km 51, awaiting assistance for his race truck with damaged suspension.

Loeb Closes Gap in Dakar Rally

Lucas Moraes recorded the fastest time so far at km 213, overtaking Seth Quintero and pushing him to P2, 35 seconds behind. Friday’s winner, Sébastien Loeb, though not on the radar, was 55 seconds behind the Brazilian Moraes. Sainz was virtually fifth, trailing by 3:38.

Sébastien Loeb, still off the timed radars, overtook Lucas Moraes at km 311 with a 52-second lead. The Prodrive driver currently holds a 3’40” lead over Carlos Sainz, thus narrowing the gap to just 25 minutes from his Spanish rival and leader of the virtual general classification.

Sébastien Loeb, who was the first to race down the tracks with his Prodrive Hunter following his 25th stage win on Friday, recorded the best time of the day so far at km 373 and extended his lead to over two minutes over Lucas Moraes and nearly 4h30 ahead of Seth Quintero. Last year’s runner-up is fiercely competing for his first Dakar triumph. He still trails leader Sainz by 20 minutes, who is currently fifth for the day.

After completing the longest stage, Loeb celebrated his third stage win in 2024 with his 26th fastest time, finishing 7:06 minutes ahead of Moraes, 9:47 minutes in front of his Prodrive teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah, and 10:31 minutes ahead of Sainz. Seth Quintero and his German co-driver Dennis Zenz ended the day in seventh place after initially taking a virtual lead (+17:16). They play no part in the intermediate standings due to a massive time penalty of 35:15:00 hours.

46th Dakar Rally 2024

Results at the 7th of 12 Stages

1Loeb/Lurquin (F/B), Hunter4:56:39
2Moraes/Monléon (BZ/E), Toyota+ 7:06
3Al-Attiyah/Baumel (QA/F), Hunter+ 9:47
4Sainz/Cruz (E), Audi+ 10:31
5Chicherit/Winocq (F), Toyota+ 10:37
6Zala/Fiuza (LT/P), Mini+ 12:57
7Quintero/Zenz (USA/D), Toyota+ 17:16
8Krotov/Zhaltsov (KSZ), Toyota+ 23:13
9De Villiers/Murphy (ZA), Toyota+ 25:22
10Prokop/Chytka (CZ), Ford+ 26:07

Results after the 7th of 12 Stages

1Sainz/Cruz (E), Audi30:06:42
2Loeb/Lurquin (F/B), Hunter+ 19:00
3Moraes/Monléon (BZ/E), Toyota+ 1:00:35
4De Mevius/Panseri (B/F), Toyota+ 1:30:50
5De Villiers/Murphy (ZA), Toyota+ 1:40:07
6Prokop/Chytka (CZ), Ford+ 1:50:40
7Chicherit/Winocq (F), Toyota+ 1:58:40
8Botterill/Cummings (ZA), Toyota+ 2:11:16
9Vanagas/Sikk (LT/EE), Toyota+ 2:22:53
10Al-Attiyah/Baumel (QA/F), Hunter+ 2:40:10

Sebastien Loeb’s Pursuit Dakar Triumph. Loeb’s Pursuit Dakar Triumph 2024. Loeb’s Pursuit Dakar Triumph 2024

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