Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service
Duo warm up for Dakar with win over the tough sand dunes at Rallye du Maroc.
The Qatar driver and co-driver Mathieu Baumel found themselves behind Loeb and Daniel Elena with just two stages left of the event.
But stage four proved pivotal, Al-Attiyah leapfrogging a lead he never gave up, crossing the finish nearly eight minutes ahead of the Frenchman.
Afterwards, the rally winner said of the dune-laden route: “This is the best possible preparation for the Dakar Rally. This is one of the toughest races you can do and it was so satisfying to be collecting those stage wins over the past week.”
Carlos Sainz endured a tough fourth stage to drop him well out of contention, eventually finishing an hour and a half off the pace but, despite the setback, the Spaniard insisted it was also ideal preparation for the Dakar.
“We are very happy with the experience we gained,” he said following 10th place with Lucas Cruz. “I would like to say thank you to the Peugeot Sport team for their hard work. We are eager to start the Dakar Rally in January and drive the brand-new Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi.”
“The new bike has given me a lot of confidence to push and take my riding into a new level,” he said, somewhat throwing down the gauntlet to teammate Sam Sunderland for the Dakar.
Sunderland was forced to pull out with water contamination in his fuel tank after the bike got submerged in a river.
Explaining his retirement, the Briton said: “We got to the river and I followed the road book to the crossing but, although I took it as carefully as I could the bike just disappeared from beneath me. I ended up drowing the engine and getting water in the fuel.”
Rallye du Maroc results
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Toyota 10 hours 39 minutes 34 seconds
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) Peugeot +7:55
3. Nani Roma (ESP) Mini +24:45
4. Kuba Przygoński (POL) Mini +29:38
5. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) Mini +43:25