"We did a great job all day long, but we made a blunder in the final 15 kilometres," said Al Attiyah as he reflected on a navigational error when he missed a waypoint.
"We went down the wrong valley, and then it took us a long time to backtrack and get back on the right track. It cost us several minutes, but I'm still happy with our position," the Red Bull athlete added.
With the rest day already a distant memory, Al Attiyah and his French navigator Mathieu Baumel put up a terrific performance, which has further increased the Toyota Hilux duo's cushion at the head of the race.
"The dunes today were incredible, I've never seen anything like that anywhere in the world," added Al Attiyah.
Loeb, behind the wheel of a private entry Peugeot, claimed his third stage win of this year's Dakar and 13th of his career after reaching the finish more than two minutes ahead of the 48-year-old Qatari.
"It went well, but we made mistakes. We saw Nasser make the same blunder, so we both lost two minutes," said Loeb, who was relieved to survive the same run from Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona where he was forced to retire last year.
Peterhansel in trouble
French driver Loeb also snatched second place in the overall standings from 13-time champion Stephane Peterhansel who finished almost 12 minutes behind Al Attiyah and the best part of 19 minutes back from Loeb.
Peterhansel and his MINI John Cooper Works Buggy ran into trouble and he now has it all to do on the final four stages.
The seventh stage on Monday takes place in and around San Juan de Marcona.