Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah edged closer to a second Dakar Rally victory on Friday when he claimed his third stage win out of six along Chile’s Pacific coast.
Al-Attiyah, the 2011 champion, had already won the second and fourth stages and his latest triumph meant that Mini, who swept the 2014 podium, maintained their record of winning all the stages so far.
The Qatari took the honours on the 318km timed stage from Antofagasta to Iquique on the shores of the Pacific with main rival Giniel de Villiers, the South African 2009 champion, second in a Toyota.
— Nasser AlAttiya Team (@NasserATeam) January 10, 2015
It was de Villiers’ fifth podium finish this week while 2014 champion Nani Roma, also in a Mini, was third. However Roma’s hopes of hanging on to his title had already been shattered by losing six and a half hours on Saturday’s opening stage.
In the overall standings, Al-Attiyah stretched his lead by 37 seconds over de Villiers to more than 21 minutes.
Saudi Arabian rookie Yazeed Alrajhi, in a Toyota, was seventh on the stage, more than eight minutes off the pace and is almost half an hour behind Al-Attiyah in overall standings. He remains in third spot.
Stephane Peterhansel, the best-placed Peugeot driver after the retirement of 2010 champion Carlos Sainz, finished half an hour behind Al-Attiyah to stand at close to two hours off the lead.
Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues, on a Honda, won the motorcycling stage while Spain’s Joan Barreda stayed in charge of the overall title race.
It was Rodrigues’ first win on the 2015 race, finishing in three hours 40 min 10 sec.
Barreda finished sixth on his Honda, more than seven minutes behind Rodrigues, but still extended his overall lead over defending champion Marc Coma, who was eighth on his KTM, to 12 min 27 sec.
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Argentine Orlando Terranova claimed his second stage win of the Dakar Rally yesterday, to move third overall in the standings led by Mini team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Qatari Al-Attiyah finished fifth in the day’s 542km third stage, which included 284km of specials.
South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, picked up his third podium finish in three days to stay second overall.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz, winner in 2010, finished fourth at 4min 6sec to move up to fourth in the overall standings, while fellow Peugeot veteran Stephane Peterhansel, finished seventh, nine minutes off the pace, to sit 16th overall.
In the motorbike section, Austria’s Matthias Walkner, was a surprise winner of his first Dakar stage, ahead of KTM team-mate and reigning champion Marc Coma and overall race leader Joan Barreda Bort of Spain. Overall Honda’s Barreda Bort leads ahead of Portuguese team-mate Paulo Goncalves.
Today’s stage runs between Chilecito in Argentina to Copiapo in Chile.
Nasser Al Attiyah bounced back from being stripped of victory on Sunday’s opening stage by taking the overall lead after winning yesterday’s second stage at the Dakar Rally in Argentina.
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Driving a Mini, Al Attiyah had claimed victory on Sunday only to be stripped of his success for speeding – clocking 68kmph in a section limited to 50kmph – and earning a two-minute penalty that saw him relegated to seventh place.
But the Qatari, the 2011 champion, put on a masterful display yesterday to finish eight-and-a-half minutes clear of South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers to take the overall lead following the 518km stage from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan.
“We won the stage. This was a big thing today. We studied the stage very well. We need to work every day and take it day by day. There’s still a long way to go,” Al Attiyah said.
De Villiers’ Toyota team-mate Bernhard Ten Brinke was second at more than 10 minutes behind and those two now hold the same positions in the overall standings.
Veteran Peugeot drivers Carlos Sainz and Stephane Peterhansel, both former winners, 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 the Spaniard broke down in his Mini on Sunday and had to be towed home, losing more than six hours.
In the motorbike section, Spain’s Joan Barreda Bort also moved into the overall lead by taking victory on the second stage.
He finished 6min 13sec ahead of his Honda teammate Paulo Goncalves with fellow Spaniard Ruben Faria third on a KTM at 9min 16sec.
Reigning champion Marc Coma, another Spaniard riding a KTM, finished 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 amongst the top 50 on Monday.
This year’s rally features a gruelling 9,000km trek through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia before arriving back in Buenos Aires for a January 17 finish.