A dark shadow was cast over Dakar 2020 after Paulo Gonçalves, who was taking part in his 13th Dakar, lost his life during the course of the seventh stage. One of the most experienced and beloved champions of the rally-raid family, Gonçalves crashed 276 km into a special that was ultimately won by his former teammate Kevin Benavides. He was 40 years old.

Stage 6, which took place on Friday, saw competitors ride from Ha’il to Riyadh. Stéphane Peterhansel (Mini) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota), both of whom worked hard to make up time in the general standings, put pressure on overall leader Carlos Sainz. Al-Attiyah admitted the “Mini buggy is too fast compared to a 4x4” in current conditions, despite going to the maximum in his Hilux.

Yazeed Al Rajhi of Overdrive Toyota, who crossed the line a modest 36 minutes and 48 seconds after the stage winner, remained in fourth place. Orlando Terranova ended fifth less than ten minutes later, with SRT's Mathieu Serradori in sixth. Toyota’s Giniel de Villiers and Bernhard ten Brinke struggled to make up time and found themselves in seventh and eighth respectively.

Stage 6 results:

1. Sainz (Mini)
2. Al-Attiyah (Toyota): +07:48
3. Peterhansel (Mini): +16:20
4. Al Rajhi (Toyota): +36:48
5. Terranova (Mini): +43:54
6. Serradori (SRT): +50:21
7. De Villiers (Toyota): +55:39
8. Ten Brinke (Toyota): +01:12:58
9. Seaidan (Mini): +02:00:11
10. Vanagas (Toyota): +02:37:55

Following a rest day, Stage 7 took competitors from Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir. Although Sainz held onto the top spot, Al-Attiyah managed to close the stage just two minutes and 12 seconds after the overall leader. Just 41 seconds later came Peterhansel and five seconds after that was Ten Brinke. Al Rajhi, meanwhile, ended the stage in fifth place. Fernando Alonso came sixth on the day (pushing him up to 15th in the overall standings), some three minutes ahead of De Villiers.

Stage 7 results:

1. Sainz (Mini)
2. Al-Attiyah (Toyota): +02:12
3. Peterhansel (Mini): +02:53
4. Ten Brinke (Toyota): +02:58
5. Al Rajhi (Toyota): +07:36
6. Alonso (Toyota): +07:49
7. De Villiers (Toyota): +10:19
8. Przygonski (Mini): +11:41
9. Terranova (Mini): +12:04
10. Seaidan (Mini): +13:32

Overall standings:

1. Sainz (Mini)
2. Al-Attiyah (Toyota): +10:00
3. Peterhansel (Mini): +19:13
4. Al Rajhi (Toyota): +44:24
5. Terranova (Mini): +55:58
6. De Villiers (Toyota): +01:05:58
7. Ten Brinke (Toyota): +01:15:56
8. Serradori (SRT): +01:21:57
9. Seaidan (Mini): +02:13:43
10. Han (Geely): +03:08:30