Sainz in cruise mode
Sainz, a two-time former world rally champion, is in a strong position to add to his Dakar wins in 2010 and 2018. The 57-year-old now has three stage wins in Saudi Arabia and is one of only three drivers in Dakar history to have won stages on three different continents.
"We were flat out for a lot of time crossing the dunes. I caught up with Stephane (Peterhansel) at one part but it was very dusty so I decided to stay behind," said Sainz.
Not easy for Al Attiyah
Second placed Al Attiyah and his french navigator Matthieu Baumel are now exactly 10 minutes behind Sainz in the overall standings.
"It wasn't easy, the stage was very dangerous. We were always in sixth gear at very, very high speed," the three-time champion said.
Peterhansel catching up
Sainz's fellow Mini Buggy driver Peterhansel is a further nine minutes back at third in the general classification.
"Today it was really fast, faster than the last stage before the rest day. It was 550 kms in around four hours," said the 13-time champion across all classes.
However, all racing at the Dakar was overshadowed on stage 7 by the tragic news that bike competitor Goncalves passed away from a fall sustained 276 kms into the special stage. The 40-year-old was taking part in his 13th Dakar bike race.
As a mark of respect to such a beloved figure in the Dakar bivouac, stage 8 of motorbike and quad sections have been cancelled. The entire Dakar caravan extended their sincere condolences to his friends and family.