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2010-01-12 07:24

Peter Burroughes

Nasser Al Attiyah won his third stage on the 2010 Dakar Rally on Monday and led home another Volkswagen 1-2-3 on stage nine between Copiapo and La Serena in Chile.

The Qatari and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk finished 5m 59s ahead of Spanish team-mates Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz and 7m 38s in front of South African Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz.

First of the non-VWs was the BMW X3 of Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and Swede Tina Thorner, who were fourth and 10m 13s behind Al Attiyah.

American Mark Miller and his South African co-driver Ralph Pitchford finished fifth, 10m 48s behind team-mates Sainz and Cruz and 6m 38s ahead of the French pairing of Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret (BMW X3).  

Volkswagen Race Touaregs still occupy the first three places overall with Sainz in the overall lead with five special stages remaining, 8m 36s ahead of Al-Attiyah and 27m 17s clear of Miller and Pitchford. Peterhansel and Cottret (BMW X3) are fourth, 2h 28m 27s behind Sainz and 1h 46m 35s behind Miller.

Chicherit is fifth, 2h 24m 13s behind the leader and 1h 16m in front of sixth-placed Carlos Sousa of Portugal in the leading Mitsubishi Lancer.

De Villiers improves overall position

Defending champions De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz improved another two places to seventh overall, 4h 36m 28s behind team-mate Sainz.

Overall bike leader Cyril Despres of France and Spain’s Marc Coma, both two-times Dakar winners on two wheels, battled for the stage honours on their KTMs, with defending champion Coma pipping 2007 champion Despres by a slim four seconds.  

While Despres looks set to take his third Dakar victory in Buenos Aires on Saturday – second-placed Norwegian Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (KTM) is 1h 21m 50s in arrears – the battle for the remaining two places on the podium is still very much alive.  

Chilean Lopez Contardo, third on today’s stage on his Aprilia, 1m 14s behind Coma, has closed to within 3m 41s of Ullevalseter. Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) is 3m 13s behind Contardo.

Coma, carrying a 6h 22m penalty, improved from 24th on Sunday to 18th and is now 7h 00m 45s behind Despres and racing for pride alone.


Monday's special stage was reduced from 338 km to 170 km and the start was delayed from 07.15 to 11.00 as a result of heavy fog in the Copiapo area. The stage was made up almost entirely of the sand dunes around Copiapo.  

A total of 211 crews out of 362 starters lined up for today’s stage, with 94 bikes out of 151, 68 cars from 134, 35 trucks from 52 and 14 quads out of 25 remaining in the race.

Special stage 10 on Tuesday is a 238-km journey from La Serena to Santiago, the capital city of Chile.  

It is the last day in the Atacama desert before the rally crosses back into Argentina on Wednesday with a 3 500-metres high traverse of the Paso Libertadores through the Andes mountains.

Overall (cars):
1 Carlos Sainz (Spain) VW Race Touareg, 33h 33m 40s
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) VW Race Touareg, +8m 36s
3 Mark Miller (America) VW Race Touareg, +27m 17s
4 Stephane Peterhansel (France) BMW X3, +2h 13m 52s
5 Guerlain Chicherit (France) BMW X3, +2h 28m 27s

Overall (bikes):
1 Cyril Despres (France) KTM, 35h 58m 55s
2 Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (Norway) KTM, +1h 21m 50s
3 Lopez Contardo (Chile) Aprilia, 1h 25m 31s
4 Helder Rodrigues (Portugal) Yamaha, +1h 28m 44s
5 Alain Duclos (France) KTM, 1h 55m 40s

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