You step on its asphalt and you can still feel all the emotion that was experienced that day. Here, just a month ago, one of the most intense and spectacular duels in the history of the sport was vibrated like never before, a delight that was decisive in crowning a champion. And now, the same stage is decked out to receive another. Jeddah Corniche has only just been built, but it is already unforgettable for F1 with that fight between Hamilton and Verstappen, just as it will be for the new king of the Dakar, Al Attiyah III of Arabia.

The podium installed in the semi-urban circuit of the Saudi city had a preferential place for the Qatari’s Toyota. From the first to the last kilometer of the more than 8,000 that the Dakar 2022 has traveled through the East, it has been governed by Nasser, an unstoppable cyclone with a favorable wind since Day 1 who never saw what was taken for granted that would be his in danger : his fourth victory in the desert, the third in Arabia picking up the baton from Sainz (2020) and Peterhansel (2021). The forecasts were clear, but they were even scarce.

In that chaotic waypoint After the first stage, Al Attiyah found a direct shortcut to success. He and Baumel, his co-driver, hit where most found a labyrinth that unleashed one of the biggest controversies of this edition and shook almost all his rivals at once. Only Loeb was able to reply and endured, but it would take him a short while to get off the hook on a disastrous third day for him. Since then, Nasser only had to dedicate himself to managing his income after avoiding a threat of disqualification and a scare in his Toyota.

did the same the final day he arrived with a 33-minute lead over the Frenchman from BRX. Thus, he was able to enjoy the last 160 kilometers in the same way that the winner of the Tour does the walk along the Champs-Élysées. It was just a matter of getting the car to the finish line, even if it was with one hand. The six minutes he gave with Loeb did not matter and the eight with Lategan, who won the stage with another Hilux, everything was already written, Al Attiyah only had to stamp his signature to collect the package that brought his crown.

The Qatari was the one who had to celebrate the most, but not the only one. Because Sainz, despite finishing 12th, and Audi also have sufficient reasons for this, specifically four, the total number of stage wins with those who leave under their arms in their first year: two from Sainz and one from Peterhansel and Ekstrom. It is true that by forgetting the general at the first change they were able to attack to get them, but also that they have a car to be able to do it. Nasser had enough with two (plus the prologue) to prevail, he did not need more. What comes next will be another story.


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