"A very hard stage, not easy. A lot of dunes, camel grass and the average speed was really slow. We took more than four hours to cover the stage," said Al Attiyah.
Now that dunes are firmly on the agenda, the element of risk has shot up exponentially, a point not lost out on the ace Qatari driver.
"I think the organisation had kept this tough stage up their sleeves until the end. The last two days will be like this as well for sure," said Al Attiyah.
Break in racing
There was no racing as the Silk Way crossed over into China from Mongolia. This break in proceedings gave the competitors a chance to take stock of the situation they found themselves in with Al Attiyah, an accomplished skeet shooter, trying his luck with bow and arrow.
Would they need to attack on the final three stages or could they race tactically to protect their position?
The penultimate stage takes the Silk Way convoy 290-kilometres across the Gobi Desert. With plenty of sand on the menu expect lots more twists and turns amid the unforgiving Chinese dunes.
Things were turned on their head in the truck race, but there was no such drama in the car class as Al Attiyah holds the edge.
The year's Silk Way Rally is a candidate race for possible future inclusion in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The event finishes in Dunhuang on July 16.
As the Silk Way Rally reaches its business end, Al Attiyah looks well poised to win his maiden title. But, anything can happen in rally-raid!