Sainz wins consolidates Dakar rally leadJanuary 15th, 2010 - 5:24 am ICT by IANS
San Rafael (Argentina), Jan 15 (DPA) Spain’s Carlos Sainz won the 12th stage of the Dakar rally Thursday, slightly increasing his overall lead in the prestigious race just two days before it ends.
Sainz’s Volkswagen covered the stage, with 476 km between the western Argentine cities of San Juan and San Rafael, in 3.30:29 hours. Qater’s Nasser al-Attiyah was just 52 seconds slower, while US driver Mark Miller, in third place, trailed Sainz by 4:22 minutes.
The same three VW drivers top the overall table in the race. Excitement is set to persist to the last, since Sainz leads Al-Attiyah by just 5:20 minutes, with Miller 28:12 minutes behind the race leader.
Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, the winner of six editions of the Dakar rally on a motorcycle and three in a car who is nicknamed “Mr Dakar” for his prowess, is fourth overall, 2.20:42 hours behind Sainz after suffering mechanical problems early in the race.
Thursday’s was the second stage win this year for Sainz, 47, who won the rally World Championship twice before turning to the prestigious offroad race.
In the motorcycle section of the Dakar rally, Chilean Francisco Lopez Contardo won the stage and consolidated his second place overall behind France’s Cyril Despres. This was Lopez Contardo’s third stage win in the 32nd edition of the rally.
Despres, who won the prestigious race in 2005 and 2007, remained comfortable at the top of the overall table despite ending eighth in San Rafael. The Frenchman’s lead over Lopez Contardo stood at 1.03:42 hours even though he lost over 17 minutes Thursday.
The stage was cut down by six kilometres for security reasons, with thousands of spectators by the side of the paths to watch the race.
Italian biker Luca Manca, who suffered life-threatening head wounds when he fell off his motorbike last week during the sixth stage of the rally, woke up from an induced coma Thursday at a hospital in Chilean capital Santiago.
Manca, 29, was conscious and off the mechanical ventilator, Dakar rally doctor Florence Pommerie.
The 14-stage, 9,000-km event through Argentina and Chile, considered the toughest motor vehicle race in the world, is slated to conclude Saturday in Buenos Aires, with the prize-giving ceremony the following day.
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Tags: carlos sainz, chilean capital, cyril despres, dakar rally, francisco lopez, head wounds, manca, mark miller, mechanical problems, motorcycle section, offroad race, overall lead, prestigious race, race excitement, race leader, rally world championship, san rafael argentina, sixth stage, third stage, vw drivers