RIYADH: Sebastien Loeb set a Dakar Rally record of six stage wins in a row on Saturday as Qatar’s reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah stood on the brink of clinching his fifth title in the car category. Frenchman Loeb, a nine-times world rally champion, took his seventh stage win of the 2023 event to cement second position overall in Saudi Arabia with only Sunday’s final run to Dammam on the Gulf coast remaining. “It’s great, even though the record was not necessarily my goal. I especially wanted to cement my second place,” said the Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver after the short 154km stage 13 over the dunes from Shaybah to Al-Hofuf. “Championship points are important too, so I pushed. The visibility made the dunes hard to jump. I feel good on sand, I can set a strong pace, I’m confident, I can drive aggressively while watching out for broken dunes.” Loeb had on Friday equalled Finnish rally great Ari Vatanen’s 1989 record of five stage wins in a row and became the first driver since Spaniard Carlos Sainz in 2011 to win seven stages in one Dakar. The Dakar is the flagship of the five-round FIA world rally-raid championship and Loeb has won more stages than any driver in this year’s event. Five points are available for each stage win, as well as points for the overall classification at the finish. Toyota’s Al-Attiyah remained comfortably ahead, able to ease off and reduce the risks with an hour and 21 minute cushion at the top. The Qatari was still second fastest on the stage, five minutes and 28 seconds behind Loeb. “We finished second in a good position and I’m happy to keep our first place until the finish,” said the Toyota driver. “For the championship, it is important to do well, like we did today, because it earns us points in the fight against Seb, who’s cranking out one stage win after another.” Brazilian rookie Lucas Moraes remained third overall for Overdrive Racing. In the motorcycle category, Australia’s two times Dakar winner Toby Price led the standings but only by 12 seconds from Argentine KTM team mate and stage winner Kevin Benavides, the 2021 winner on two wheels. Benavides had stopped on the stage to stay beside fallen Austrian team mate Matthias Walkner while waiting for medical assistance and was given the lost 23 minutes back. American Skyler Howes dropped to third, a minute and a half off the pace. The bikers will start Sunday’s final stage in reverse order of the general standings, with Price running last in a sprint for victory.