France's Peterhansel wins Dakar Rally for 14th time - GulfToday

France's Peterhansel wins Dakar Rally for 14th time


Stephane Peterhansel (R) and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger celebrate their victory at the end of the last stage between Yanbu and Jeddah on Friday. AFP

France's Stephane Peterhansel on Friday won the Dakar Rally for the 14th time, 30 years after his initial success in the most gruelling event on motorsport's calendar.

Peterhansel, nicknamed “Mr Dakar,” has now won the car category eight times, having also won the motorbike category six times.

The 55-year-old Mini driver, aided by co-pilot Edouard Boulanger, finished 14min 51sec ahead of Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota), with Spain's Carlos Sainz — winner of Friday's 12th and final stage from Yanbu to Jeddah — rounding out the podium in another Mini.

DarkaRallywinnerStephane Peterhansel (R) celebrates with teammates following his victory. AFP

Peterhansel's victory came shortly after news that French motorcyclist Pierre Cherpin had died from injuries sustained in a crash on the seventh stage, becoming the race's first fatality this year.

Cherpin's death takes to 27, including 22 motorcyclists, the number of competitors who have lost their lives since the inaugural Dakar Rally in 1979.

Experience and calm

Peterhansel said he still had the "same emotion" as he did after his first victory back in 1991. "To win the Dakar is always really complicated," he said.

"There are no easy victories on the Dakar. This one from the outside maybe looked easy, but it was not easy every day to manage the small gap over Nasser.
"Experience and being able to stay calm helped to win. "The first victory on the motorcycle is my favourite, because it was the one that I dreamed a lot of and now it's really a bonus. Winning is always a big emotion, but the first victory was the best one."

DakarRally2Stephane Peterhansel (R) celebrates with teammates following his victory. AFP

The second place for Al-Attiyah, a three-time winner, was his fifth, and the Qatari was quick to criticise what he said was the unfair advantage the buggies had over the 4x4 cars.

"This is the second year that we are fighting against the buggies," said Al-Attiyah, who has hopes his sporting year will include a seventh Olympics, where he will compete in skeet.

"I'm more disappointed than last year because if you only have four fingers and not five fingers like everybody else, it does not help.

"We need to change the rule against the buggies because now the buggies have been winning for five years against the 4x4 cars. There is no question, it is not a fair rule. I hope the organisers will change it, otherwise we won't be interested in coming."

Agence France-Presse

Related articles