Nasser Al-Attiyah only needs to avoid disaster on the final stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally to clinch victory as he claims the penultimate stage win after Sebastien Loeb suffers problems late on.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver has been the long-time commander of this year’s race and will start tomorrow’s final stage with a dominant 51m 27s time lead on nearest rival Nani Roma from the X-Raid Team.

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Assuming he avoids any serious trouble or mechanical problems, Al-Attiyah will secure his third Dakar Rally title following his 2011 triumph for Volkswagen and 2015 victory with Mini.

Loeb had been leading stage nine, Pisco to Pisco, but lost over 20 minutes stuck in dunes in the closing kilometres before a late mechanical issue condemned any late hopes of a surprise victory in the privateer Peugeot.

The nine-time World Rally Champion got to the finish to the special stage over 75 minutes behind Al-Attiyah, leaving him over two hours behind on the general classification, but has retained third place by a little over 30 minutes from Jakub Przygonski for the Orlen X-Raid Team.

Cyril Despres had been set to inherit the stage win from Loeb after his fellow countryman’s issues but flipped his car with 20km of the special stage to go.

As a result Al-Attiyah claimed the stage victory, his third stage win at this year’s event, while also extending his general classification lead by almost five minutes on Roma.

Earlier in the day Stephane Peterhansel saw his Dakar Rally ended just 26km into the penultimate stage, handing the 13-time champion a DNF for the first time in a decade, as he stopped with co-driver David Castera suffering with pain in his back.

In the Moto class the drama continues to unfold following leader Ricky Brabec suffering engine failure for Monster Energy Honda, as fellow front-runner Adrien van Beveren, who had been fighting inside the top five, also suffered an engine failure on his Yamalube Yamaha.

Sam Sunderland saw his hopes of a victory fightback effectively ended by a 60-minute penalty handed to him after being accused of deliberately damaging his electronic navigation system on his Red Bull KTM. The former Dakar Rally winner has dropped to eighth place and 1hr 10m 15s off the leader.

The shake-up sees injured rider Toby Price lead for Red Bull KTM by 62 seconds from Pablo Quintanilla on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, while Price’s team-mate Matthias Walkner remains in contention in third place 6m 35s off the leader.

 

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