Sun, Jan 17, 2010 - Page 18 News List

Leader Sainz slams teammate Al-Attiyah after their cars clash

AFP , SANTA ROSA, ARGENTINA

Dakar Rally leader Carlos Sainz angrily denounced his Volkswagen teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah after the two drivers clashed on the 13th and penultimate stage of the race on Friday.

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, 1 minute, 21 seconds behind Peterhansel, after overtaking Spaniard Sainz.

Sainz’s lead over Al-Attiyah in the overall standings was subsequently slashed to just 2 minutes, 48 seconds ahead of the final stage, which takes the drivers back into Buenos Aires.

“Logically Nasser was behind,” said former world rally champion Sainz, who finished 3 minutes, 53 seconds 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 zigzagging 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,” Sainz said. “Two days ago, I stayed in the dust for 120km. What is absolutely not normal is that a teammate 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 5 minutes, 35 seconds behind the Norwegian in fourth place on his Aprilia.

“A fantastic stage for me,” Ullevalseter said. “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 160kph.”

France’s KTM rider Cyril Despres, 43 seconds behind Ullevalseter in second place, continues to enjoy a healthy lead of 1 hour, 4 minutes at the top of the general classification ahead of the final stage.

Spain’s Marc Coma, another KTM rider, finished third on the day, 2 minutes, 46 seconds off Ullevalseter’s pace.

Coma was given a controversial time penalty of 6 hours, 22 minutes for illegally changing a wheel during the seventh stage and is now 6 hours, 32 minutes behind leader Despres.

Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) remains fourth overall, with Frenchmen David Fretigne (Yamaha) and Alain Duclos (KTM) fifth and sixth respectively.

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