Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Qatar's al-Attiyah grabs debut stage win in Dakar rally

AFP , NEMA, MAURITANIA

France's Stephane Peterhansel drives his Mitsubishi during the 10th stage of the 29th Dakar rally on Tuesday near Nema, Mauritania.

PHOTO: AFP

Qatari driver Nasser al-Attiyah won the 400km 10th stage of the Dakar rally on Tuesday for his first victory in the car section.

Driving a BMW, al-Attiyah finished 28 seconds ahead of Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka in a Mitsubishi with American Mark Miller 1 minute 49 seconds behind in third place for Volkswagen.

Fourth-placed Stephane Peterhansel retained the overall lead.

Al-Attiyah, though third overnight, in fact dropped a place to fourth overall having being handed a penalty for speeding in the stretch to Ouarzazate, Morocco.

"I don't understand why they gave me this penalty six days later," al-Attiyah said. "They should have handed it to me the day after the stage. But I'm happy with this first victory in the rally and I'm going to try and do my best to finish on the podium at the finish in Dakar."

After Monday's incidents: the engine of South Africa's Giniel De Villiers caught fire and Spain's Carlos Sainz had an electronic problem, the drivers started the day in 29th and 30th position but Sainz finished in fifth and De Villiers, 15th.

Overall, Sainz clawed back to 10th spot, at 7:45.59 behind leader Peterhansel, and De Villiers is 12th, at 8:28.19 in arrears.

In the motorbike category, Portugal's Helder Rodriguez won on his Yamaha which meant an amateur won for the second, consecutive day following the win by Latvia's Janis Vinters on Monday.

Overall leader Marc Coma of Spain finished second with France's Cyril Despres third.

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