Dakar racers caught up in street protests
LA PAZ: The Dakar Rally reached the lungbusting altitude of La Paz on Friday and was quickly caught up in violent street battles being fought between protesters and police in the tense Bolivian capital.
Around 100 demonstrators since 2006 and hopes to stay there clashed with police who used tear until 2025. gas and pepper spray to quell the Empty water bottles and trouble which spread to a road bechairs were thrown in the direcing used by the competitors. tion of the main official Dakar
“We want hospitals, not the vehicle which led the competiDakar,” chanted protesters, aiming tors into La Paz. their frustrations at President Evo Morales, who has been in power jeered by protesters who have also been venting anger over the country’s penal code.
Despite the trouble, Morales welcomed the arrival of the twoweek Dakar event, which stretches from Peru, into Bolivia and ends in Argentina, in his country.
“We are proud to participate in this event, which can integrate us in the world, promote sport and attract tourists,” he tweeted.
Hundreds of Bolivians appeared to agree with Morales as they cheered the riders and drivers, shrugging off the violence under the watchful eye of the armed forces.
In the event itself, Spain’s Carlos Sainz, a two- time world rally champion and 2010 winner at the Dakar, won the sixth stage, from Arequipa in Peru to La Paz, ahead of 13- time champion Stephane Peterhansel, one of his Peugeot teammates.
Sainz, 55, clocked 2hr 53min 30sec for the 313km timed run of the gruelling stage, 4min 06sec ahead of Peterhansel who retains the overall lead.
Sainz was also 5min 05sec in front of 2011 and 2015 Dakar champion Nasser Al- Attiyah in a Toyota.
“For sure, it was completely different,” said Peterhansel after a
“The tracks are easier. It’s easy navigation. The main problem is altitude for the driver and for the engine. We lost a lot of power and we lost concentration— you know, the brain also works in slow motion, so it was a little bit complicated.
“But today for me it was like a transition. We took no risks at all a good position in La Paz”.
French rider Antoine Meo, on a KTM, claimed the motorcycle honors.
Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, on a Honda, was second, 30 seconds behind, but went to the top of overall standings. Australia’s Toby Price was third on the stage.
Benavides has a 1min 57sec lead over French Yamaha rider Adrien Van Beveren in the overall standings.
Friday is a rest day in La Paz.