CORDOBA  - Nasser Al-Attiyah has pulled out of this year's Dakar Rally due to mechanical failure, dashing his dreams of another title in the celebrated race, his team announced on Tuesday.

Al-Attiyah, 42, and his co-driver Lucas Cruz had been pushing for the overall lead of the race until repeated break-downs on the 851km stage nine between Tucuman and Cordoba in Argentina forced them to abandon. A broken water pump was to blame.

At the start of the ninth stage, Al-Attiyah was second in the overall classification for cars, just over three minutes behind Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, who is pushing for his 11th Dakar Rally win. The Qatari driver, who won the race in 2011 and was second in 2010, was taking part in a buggy developed over the last five months by Red Bull Motorsport. The Red Bull Rally Team's other buggy, driven by Spain's Carlos Sainz, was withdrawn on the sixth stage, also because of mechanical problems.