The seventh stage of Dakar 2022 saw the participants hit the sands of Saudi Arabia as the final week of this year’s rally kicked off. Honda’s Chilean rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo claimed his first stage win of Dakar 2022 and the third of his career. In the car’s section, Sebastian Loeb blasted his way to victory to claw back some time off rival Nasser Al-Attiyah.
The 402-kilometre special stage between Riyadh and Al-Dawadimi kicked off with a retirement as Stage 6 winner Daniel Sanders crashed out of this year’s Dakar rally. Sanders injured his left arm in a fall en route to the start line.
With the stage finally kicking off, many of the overall leaders struggled for pace after the rest day. Cornejo finished the stage in 3 hours 48 minutes and 26 seconds, finishing just 44 seconds ahead of defending champion Kevin Benavides’ KTM. Claiming the final podium spot was Honda’s Joan Barreda, who finished the stage a further 2 minutes and 7 seconds behind Benavides.
Riding the fastest of the TVS and Hero bikes on stage 7 was Chile’s Lorenzo Santolino who finished the stage in the 5th spot. Santolino’s TVS Sherco finished the stage 8 minutes and 29 seconds behind the winner. One place behind Santolino was Hero’s Joaquim Rodrigues. Rodrigues finished the stage just 28 seconds behind Santolino.
Next up was TVS Sherco rider Rui Goncalves, who finished the stage in the 16th spot. 6 places behind Goncalves in 22nd was Hero’s Aaron Mare. India’s Harith Noah finished the stage in the 23rd spot, just 11 seconds behind Mare’s Hero.
In the overall standings, Yamaha’s French rider Adrien Van Beveren leads the Dakar rally by 5 minutes and 12 seconds from Matthias Walkner’s KTM. Defending champion Kevin Benavides lies just 11 seconds behind his KTM teammate in the final podium spot.
Santolino continues to be the highest-ranked rider riding Indian metal in the Saudi desert. Santolino’s currently lies 5th overall. Hero’s two riders Joaquim Rodrigues and Aaron Mare currently lie in 16th and 17th. India’s Harith Noah is currently in the 27th spot, 3 places ahead of TVS teammate Rui Goncalves.
The cars category saw French WRC legend Sebastian Loeb claim another stage victory at this year’s Dakar Rally. Loeb blitzed the 402-kilometre long stage in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 32 seconds in Bahrain Raid Xtreme Hunter.
The Frenchman’s sixteenth career stage victory on today’s special stage saw him beat his main rival, Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah by 5 minutes and 26 seconds on the timing charts. Claiming the third and final podium spot was Audi’s Carlos Sainz in his all-electric challenger. Sainz pipped teammate and defending champion Stephane Peterhansel to the final podium spot by around 2 minutes.
The results of today’s seventh stage see Loeb regain the second spot in the overall rankings from Saudi driver Al Rajhi. Loeb is currently 9 and a half minutes ahead of Rajhi. While Loeb’s win today may have taken some time off from overall leader Nasser Al-Attiyah, the Qatari Toyota driver still leads the Dakar Rally by nearly 45 minutes. Beating him will take a miracle.
Thoughts on Dakar 2022: Stage 7
The seventh stage of Dakar 2022 saw Australia’s Sanders exit the race before the throttle was really twisted in anger. France Adrien Van Beveren now leads the Dakar Rally and has a 5 minute plus lead over his nearest rival. However, defending champion Kevin Benavides is now in the top 3 and we expect him to push over the coming days to defend his championship.
In the cars category, Qatari Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah looks comfortable at the top with a 45-minute lead and looks set to claim the Dakar crown barring some insane miracle.