Peterhansel edges Attiyah at Dakar Rally’s 9th stage - GulfToday

Peterhansel edges Attiyah at Dakar Rally’s 9th stage

Attiyah-Dakar-Rally

Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Paulo Fiuza in action during the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday. Associated Press

Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel edged defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah by just 15 seconds to win stage nine of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday. Nicknamed ‘Mr. Dakar’ for his 13 previous Dakar victories (seven in a car and six on a bike), Mini driver Peterhansel clocked 3hr 08min 31sec on the 410km special of the mammoth 886km stage. It was his third stage win of this Dakar, being held for the first time in Saudi Arabia.

Local favourite Yasir Seaidan (Race) came in third while overall race leader Carlos Sainz finished fifth, 6min 31sec off the pace.

The veteran Spaniard, in his Mini, was off the leading duo’s pace all stage, and sees his lead cut to just 24sec over Toyota’s Attiyah. Peterhansel remains in third place in the general classification, 6:38 off the pace. Attiyah said he was content with a good day’s racing.

“We tried to do our best and today I think we did a really good stage,” said the driver who has represented Qatar in six Olympic Games, winning bronze in the men’s skeet event in London in 2012.

“I’m quite happy to close the gap with Carlos. I think tomorrow and after tomorrow will be very, very difficult for everybody.

“It’s good tomorrow that Stephane is opening on marathon day. We’ll see now about Carlos, but, okay, it looks like the three cars are very close together. For all three of us, it is possible that one can win the Dakar.”

In the motorbike category, resuming after stage eight was cancelled following the death of Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves, Pablo Quintanilla notched up his first win.

The Chilean, on a Husqvarna, won the special with a lead of almost two minutes over Australia’s defending champion Toby Price.

As a result, he continues to put pressure on general standings leader Ricky Brabec, the American Honda rider nevertheless managing to limit the damage (+20:53) by finishing less than four minutes behind the day’s winner in fourth spot. Wednesday’s stage 10 from Haradh to Shubaytah takes competitors into the infamous ‘Rub al-Khali’ or ‘Empty Quarter’, a huge sand desert that spreads from host country Saudi Arabia into neighbouring Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Vast off-road expanses feature, with the last 30 kilometres of the stage going right through the dunes in what promises to be a tough challenge.

Meanwhile, defending Dakar Rally bike champion Toby Price spoke movingly on Monday about Paulo Goncalves, the Portuguese rider killed in a crash, and how riders risked their lives “every time we climb onto a motorcycle”.

The Australian was the first to come across Goncalves, 40, after his fatal high speed accident on Sunday’s seventh stage in the Saudi Arabian desert.

Price, 32, revisited those harrowing moments after Monday’s eighth stage was cancelled for bikes and quads to give riders time “to mourn their friend”.

Agencies