The Star Late Edition

Polish Holowczyc reigns in Dakar Rally third stage


SAN JUAN: Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc took the overall lead in the Dakar Rally yesterday after the third stage won by Mini-driving teammate Spaniard Nani Roma.

It was not a good day for overnight leader, six-time Dakar motorcycli­ng champion and threetime car winner France’s Stephane Peterhanse­l, who suffered two punctures and came in over six minutes slower than Roma, which saw him slip to fifth overall.

Roma timed 2hr 26min 51sec over the 208km drive, finishing 1min 9sec ahead of Holowczyc, while Qatar’s defending champion, Nasser Al-attiyah, was third in his Hummer, 1min 29sec behind.

“We were fortunate to set off later on, follow the tyre tracks and see where to brake,” said 39-yearold Roma, who won the motorbike race in 2004. “But all in all, it’s more important for us that we drove really well, rather than the stage victory,” added Roma, whose best finish in the car section was third in 2006.

France’s three-time champion, Cyril Despres, enjoyed a crushing victory in the 270km third stage of the motorcycli­ng section.

Despres – who had a bad start to the race but regained some time on Monday – took the overall lead in the race as his main rival, KTM teammate and defending champion Marc Coma, had an awful day, finishing seventh more than 13min off the winner.

Coma was philosophi­cal about his off day, which saw him take the wrong route.

“Yesterday was my day, but today definitely wasn’t,” said Coma, who won Monday’s stage.

“After 170km, there was a different track for the bikes and the cars. I checked the road book and thought I was on the right track, but then I saw that wasn’t the case, because the next note was after 8km and it wasn’t correct, so I turned round.”

Despres timed 3hr 48min 38sec to beat Dutch rider Frans Verhoeven by 8min 37sec while Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves was third another two seconds adrift.

SA’S Giniel de Villiers came fourth to retain his third overall spot in the race. – SAPA-AFP

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