The Star Late Edition

Clever Al-attiyah finds his way to second stage win through smashed window


SAN RAFAEL, Argentina: Qatar’s defending Dakar Rally car champion Nasser Al-attiyah rebounded from losing 10 minutes on the first stage by winning yesterday’s second stage here.

The 31-year-old, who had an engine problem with his Hummer in Sunday’s opener, beat Mini’s Stephane Peterhanse­l of France by 54 seconds in the 290km drive from Santa Rosa de la Pampa.

Peterhanse­l, a six-time Dakar motorcycli­ng champion and three times in the car section, took the overall lead ahead of Al-attiyah’s Hummer team-mate Robby Gordon of the United States.

Al-attiyah, who moved up to sixth, won despite his windscreen smashing and admitted that he needed to drive more carefully in the forthcomin­g stages.

“We broke the window, and it was very difficult because it took a lot of time to pass the other cars,” said the Qatari, who started in 38th position.

“I just said that we had to have a good strategy and show we were still in the race. However, we must be more clever.”

Peterhanse­l said that he had not found many opportunit­ies to gain time on his rivals

“The start of the special was fast, so it wasn’t possible to steal a march on any of the other drivers. We felt better at the end when it started to bump around a bit and get trickier around the dunes,”

Gordon cursed his luck at not taking the stage on what was his 43rd birthday.

“It was a good day for us, everything about the car was good,” said Gordon.

“However, we hit a big rock and got a puncture. We could have won the stage.”

Motorcycli­ng champion Marc Coma had earlier won his 17th career stage in the race. The Spaniard moved to the top of the standings after winning the 295km second stage which also saw him extend his lead over KTM team-mate andrival Cyril Despres.

Despres finished second in the stage but was 1min 18sec in arrears of Coma.

First stage winner Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez of Chile was ahead at the first time marker but faded to finish fourth over two minutes behind Coma – SAPA-AFP

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