Sat, Jan 08, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Peterhansel, Goncalves take stage honors

AFP, IQUIQUE, CHILE

Francisco Lopez Contardo of Chile rides his Aprilia during the fifth stage of the Dakar Rally from Calama to Iquique, Chile, on Thursday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Triple Dakar Rally champion Stephane Peterhansel drove his BMW to victory in Thursday’s fifth stage, covering the 423km run from Calama in 4 hours, 33 minutes, 19 seconds to storm into second place in the chase for this year’s title.

The 45-year-old Frenchman, the champion on four wheels in 2004, 2005 and 2007 and a six-time motorcycle winner, was 1 minute, 24 seconds ahead of Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Volkswagen and 3 minutes, 15 seconds in front of overall leader Carlos Sainz in another Volkswagen.

Peterhansel reveled on a stage that featured many challenging sand dunes and also caused the Volkswagen duo of Al-Attiyah and defending champion Sainz navigational headaches.

Despite that, Sainz, a double world rally champion, held onto the overall lead, 2 minutes, 26 seconds ahead of Peterhansel, with last year’s runner-up Al-Attiyah in third, 2 minutes, 33 seconds off the pace.

“We managed to overtake Al-Attiyah and Sainz by taking advantage of a navigation error they made. After that, it was our turn to make a mistake and get a flat tire,” Peterhansel said. “They overtook again, but we managed to pass them at the end.”

Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves, riding a BMW, won the motorcycle stage, with Chilean Aprilia rider Francisco Lopez taking second. Goncalves finished 2 minutes, 18 seconds ahead of Lopez and 2 minutes, 19 seconds in front of Dutchman Frans Verhoeven on another BMW.

Overall leader Marc Coma of Spain was fourth on a KTM, just ahead of main rival and defending champion Cyril Despres of France, who was 12 seconds behind the Spaniard.

Despres stays second in the overall standings, despite being handed a 10-minute penalty for a technical infringement.

“I was told at half past four in the morning that I’d been given a penalty. I just forgot my thermal gloves, so I went back to get them and I didn’t see that there were signposts I had to follow at the exit,” the French rider said.

Goncalves, who is fourth overall, said he had stopped to help rival Olivier Pain, who had broken a wrist in a nasty fall.

“After the refueling point, I stopped to help Olivier Pain who had fallen. The rules say we should stop,” Goncalves said.

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