Sainz does it again in Dakar
Spain’s Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz (Volkswagen Race Touareg) strengthened their hold on this year’s Dakar Rally with a second special stage win between San Juan and San Rafael in Argentina and are now 5m 20s ahead of team-mates Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Timo
Gottschalk and 28m 12 seconds ahead of American Mark Miller and South Africa’s Ralph Pitchford with two stages of the 14-stage event remaining.
It was on the 12th stage of last year’s Dakar that Sainz crashed out of the lead and opened the door to eventual winner Giniel de Villiers of South Africa. Today he had to fight off Al-Attiyah, but increased his lead to 5m 20s.
The Qatari in turn increased his advantage over Miller and Pitchford to 2m 52s. France’s Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret (BMW X3), fourth today, remain in fourth overall, but a distant 2h 20m 42s behind Sainz and 1h 52m 30s behind Miller.
De Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz finished ninth on the stage and remain seventh overall, 5h 04m 54s behind Sainz and 51m 29s behind sixth-placed Carlos Sousa of Portugal (Mitsubishi Lancer).
The finish of today’s special stage was moved back to the 470-km mark because of the record number of spectators gathered at the finish line at 476 km. A fairly quick and technical first half was dominated by former world rally champion Sainz, before Al-Attiyah closed the gap on the sandy but still quick second half and limited the damage.
Time bonuses for bikes
Wednesday’s stage 11 bike results changed as a result of the awarding of time bonuses to the riders who opened the road and fell foul of incorrect indications set up by an Argentinean policeman.
It was Marc Coma (KTM), in fact, who was credited with the win and the overall rankings saw second-placed Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (KTM) joined on the same time by Francisco Lopez Contardo (Aprilia).
So the battle for second place behind overall leader Cyril Despres (KTM) was the focus of Thursday’s stage. It was the Chilean Contardo who won the stage, beating France’s David Fretigne (Yamaha) by 40s and Norwegian Ullevalseter by 1m 13s.
Despres’ was eighth but his overall lead remains a comfortable 1h 03m 42s ahead of Contardo and a further 1m 13s in front of Ullevalseter.
Friday’s stage is the penultimate stage of this year’s 9 000-km edition of the Dakar and the route includes a 368-km special between San Rafael and Santa Rosa in Argentina.
With a total distance of 1 432 km (liaison and special) of the rally still to go – the equivalent of more than three separate rounds of the South African national off road championship – this rally is far from over and there is still much at stake.
1 Carlos Sainz (Spain) VW Race Touareg, 42h 47m 24s
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) VW Race Touareg, +5m 20s
3 Mark Miller (America) VW Race Touareg, +28m 12s
4 Stephane Peterhansel (France) BMW X3, +2h 20m 42s
5 Guerlain Chicherit (France) BMW X3, +4h 02m 50s
1 Cyril Despres (France) KTM, 46h 10m 56s
2 Francisco Lopez Contardo (Chile) Aprilia, +1h 03m 42s
3 Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (Norway) KTM, +1h 04m 55s
4 Helder Rodrigues (Portugal) Yamaha, +1h 13m 16s
5 Alain Duclos (France) KTM, 1h 53m 25s