Fourth stage victory for Sainz in Dakar Rally

Spain’s double world rally champion Carlos Sainz won the 10th stage of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday for his fourth victory on his debut appearance in the famous race.

Sainz completed the 283km timed section from Kiffa, Mauritania, in three hours, 28 minutes and 34 seconds, finishing 4:08 ahead of compatriot Nani Roma and 4:58 in front of France’s two-time defending champion Stephane Peterhansel.

Peterhansel consolidated his lead in the overall standings to put him 40:04 ahead of compatriot Luc Alphand, who lost about 30 minutes after hitting a tree, and 1:03:17 in front of third-placed South African Giniel de Villiers.

“It was not an easy stage at all,” said Peterhansel. “Between the trees and the rocks, it was very slow. We had no problems with the car, but it was difficult to find a rhythm.”

However, Alphand admitted the game is up as far as the overall title is concerned, with the former French skiing ace now trailing by just more than 40 minutes and only hoping that Peterhansel has an engine failure between now and Sunday’s climax.

“As far as victory is concerned, that is it,” said Alphand.
“I am not going to go after Stephane and will just focus on preserving my second place.”

However, Peterhansel, perhaps mindful of the accident he had in 2003 when on the penultimate stage and holding the overall lead, refused to say if the title is in the bag for the third successive time.

“Of course it gives me some breathing space,” said Peterhansel, who won the motorbike discipline six times before crossing over to the cars. “However, nothing is sealed yet. The slightest problem can see minutes drift away from you, therefore one has to be extremely vigilant.”

After the timed section, the competitors completed a 49km stretch to Kayes, the start of Wednesday’s 705km 11th stage, with a 231km timed section, to Bamako.

As a mark of respect for Australian rider Andy Caldecott, killed in a crash during the ninth stage on Monday, rally organisers ruled that the 10th stage for the motorcyclists would be non-timed.

“We wanted to do the special all together,” said overall motorcycle leader Marc Coma. “However, with all the dust on the course, it was dangerous to cycle as a group and I preferred to go off on my own.

“As we weren’t racing to our maximum speed, we weren’t totally concentrated and our brains were working overtime. I therefore thought a lot while on the motorcycle, just as I believe all the other riders did, and that will not stop soon,” he added, referring to the death of the Australian.

The 15-stage race will have passed through Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Senegal and completed 9 043km by Sunday’s finish in Dakar.—Sapa-AFP

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