Dakar leader Sainz cries foul as Al-At­tiyah roughs him up

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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.

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