Dakar leader Sainz cries foul as Al-Attiyah roughs him up
SANTA ROSA, Argentina: Dakar Rally leader Carlos Sainz angrily denounced his Volkswagen teammate Nasser AlAttiyah after the two drivers clashed on the 13th and penultimate stage of the race yesterday.
France’s Stephane Peterhansel of BMW won the day’s stage, a 725km run between San Rafael and Santa Rosa, with Qatar’s Al-Attiyah finishing second, 1min 21sec behind Peterhansel, after overtaking Spaniard Sainz.
Sainz’s lead over Al-Attiyah in the overall standings was subsequently slashed to just 2min 48sec ahead of today’s final stage, which takes the drivers back into Buenos Aires.
“Logically Nasser was behind,” said former world rally champion Sainz, who finished 3min 53sec behind Peterhansel on the day.
“I was passing by bikes and so was he. We were in the dust. At one point, he passed me and hit me and then – when he was in front of me – he started zig-zagging in front of me. This is not fair play at all.
“If I had seen him in my rear-view mirror and if I had started doing the same, he would not have passed me. Two days ago, I stayed in the dust for 120km. What is absolutely not normal is that a team-mate would hit you.”
Al-Attiyah, who was disqualified while leading last year’s race, claimed that Sainz had provoked the incident by refusing to get out of the way.
“Sainz didn’t let me pass,” he said. “I finally managed to pass him in the last straight stretch. But it’s OK. It doesn’t matter. It was a very, very fast stage, not technical but I’m pretty happy.”
Earlier, Norway’s Pal Ullevalseter won the motorcycling stage.
The victory took Ullevalseter, on a KTM, into second place in the overall standings, leapfrogging the Chilean Francisco Lopez who finished 5min 35sec behind the Norwegian in fourth place on his Aprilia.
“A fantastic stage for me,” said Ullevalseter. “I started third and after 40km I was in the lead. Today was a route for big bikes. We could really attack and in the last hours I was riding at more than 160km/h.”
France’s KTM rider Cyril Despres, 43sec behind Ullevalseter in second place, continues to enjoy a healthy lead of 1hr 4min at the top of the general classification ahead of today’s final stage.
Spain’s Marc Coma, another KTM rider, finished third on the day, 2min 46sec off Ullevalseter’s pace.
Coma was handed a controversial time penalty of 6hr 22min for illegally changing a wheel during the seventh stage and is now 6hr 32min behind Despres.
Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) remains fourth overall, with Frenchmen David Fretigne (Yamaha) and Alain Duclos (KTM) fifth and sixth respectively. – Sapa-AFP
STAGE WINNERS: BMW’s Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean Paul Cottret excelled in the dust.