GINIEL STILL IN TOP 3: Toyota SA's Giniel de Villiers and co-pilot Dirk von Zitzewitz raced to second overall on Monday’s Stage 2 of the 2015 Dakar Rally. Mini’s Nasser al-Attiyah won the stage. Image: AP / Felipe Dana
SAN JUAN, Argentina - Nasser al-Attiyah bounced back from being stripped of victory on Sunday's opening stage by taking the overall lead after winning Monday's second stage of the Dakar Rally in Argentina.
Driving a Mini, he had claimed victory on Sunday only to be stripped of his success for speeding - 68km/h in a section limited to 50km/h - and earning a two-minute penalty that saw him relegated to seventh.
But the Qatari, the 2011 champion, put on a masterful display on Monday to finish 8min30 clear of South Africa's Giniel de Villiers to take the overall lead after the 518km stage from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan.
De Villiers's Toyota team mate Bernhard Ten Brinke was second but more than 10 minutes behind and those two now hold the same positions in the overall standings.
WATCH the Stage 2 action
Veteran Peugeot drivers Carlos Sainz and Stephane Peterhansel, each a previous Dakar winner, struggled for the second day in a row, the first losing more than 26 minutes and the second much further behind.
Defending champion Nani Roma is already out of contention after his Mini broke down on Sunday and had to be towed home, losing more than six hours.
In the motorcycle section, Spain's Joan Barreda Bort moved into the overall lead by winning Stage 2. He finished 6min13 ahead of Honda team mate Paulo Goncalves with fellow Spaniard Ruben Faria third on a KTM at 9min16.
Reigning champion Marc Coma, another Spaniard riding a KTM, was eighth at more than 12min and is now down in sixth place at a similar distance overall.
Briton Sam Sunderland, who won Sunday's opening stage, got lost and didn't finish among the top 50 on Monday.
In the quad race, Rafal Sonik put in a splendid performance at the end of the stage to gain distance on his two most serious rivals, Ignacio Casale and Sergio Lafuente. The Polish rider, who finished 3min33 ahead of Sunday's winner, took advantage to wrestle control of the general standings from Casale, whilst Lafuente rounded off a leading trio who already dominated on the rally’s first stage.
The 2015 Dakar is a gruelling 9000km loop through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia before arriving back in Buenos Aires on January 17. The event, the seventh in South America since its enforced transfer for security reasons from Africa, is the 37th.
Tuesday Stage 3: San Juan - Chilecito
The pressure endured by the competitors on Monday (Jan 5), to a very late hour for some, will drop a notch on the route to Chilecito.
The decrease in distance and intensity will allow the competitors to enjoy the majestic landscape. The red earthen tracks overlooking cliffs or plunging into canyons will take the Dakar to the heart of one of Argentina's must beautiful regions. However, the competitors will have to resist the temptation of tourism, especially in the bike and quad categories for which the route holds several bumpy sections in store.
After avoiding thousands of rocks, all it takes is one to ruin the day!
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Stage 3 - Car/Bike - Stage Summary - (San Juan... by Dakar