Carlos Sainz’s lead in Dakar Rally cut in half


Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 20

Carlos Sainz endured two punctures and lost more than half of his lead time as the Dakar Rally left Chile and returned to Argentina on Wednesday.

A day after winning his first stage, Sainz finished ninth on the 220km tight, gravelly route from Santiago across the Andes and descending into San Juan.

Sainz’s lead of more than 10 minutes was cut to just 4:28 over Volkswagen teammate Nasser al-Attiyah with three stages to go before the rally ends tomorrow in Buenos Aires. Nobody else was within 20 minutes of them.

“I took five minutes from him [Sainz] and now the gap is only four minutes,” al-Attiyah said. “The next three days will be very long. Yes, absolutely, Carlos is nervous. I want to win the Dakar.”

Guerlain Chicherit of France in a BMW won the 11th stage, his first on the Dakar in four years, in 2:34:51. Orlando Terranova of Argentina in a Mitsubishi was second, 30 seconds back, and last year’s champion Giniel de Villiers of South Africa was third, 39 seconds behind in his VW. Qatar’s al-Attiyah was fourth, 1:41 back, and Sainz was 7:19 off the pace.

Overall motorbike leader Cyril Despres of France continued to hold a commanding lead of 1:20:54 ahead of Pal Anders Ullevalseter of Norway.