Sainz wins stage, Coma struggles in Dakar Rally

Friday, January 7, 2011

ARICA - Carlos Sainz consolidated his lead in the car section of the Dakar Rally with a win Friday in the sixth stage, while fellow Spaniard Marc Coma struggled but continued to lead the motorcycle division.

Titleholder Sainz managed to gain a few seconds against Volkswagen team-mate Nasser al-Attiyah and now holds a 2:42-minute lead over the Qatari driver in the overall standings.

Al-Attiyah made the most of a bad day for BMW’s Stephane Peterhansel - a Dakar Rally legend with six titles on a motorcycle and three in a car - to get back into second place.

In the motorcycle section, Coma only managed to be fourth in the stage, which was won by Portugal’s Ruben Faria. Coma lost more than 1 minute to his closest rival for the offroad race title, Frenchman Cyril Despres.

However, Coma, who won the Dakar Rally in 2006 and 2009, remains atop the overall table, with a lead of 8:48 minutes over second-place Despres, who won the race in 2005, 2007 and 2010.

“It was a very hard stage, at the start with the dunes, then with all the navigation,” Coma said, in comments posted on the race website.

The sixth stage of the rally, 721 km in the Atacama Desert between Iquique and Arica in northern Chile, featured a 456-km timed special. Sand dunes, dry grass and a lot of dust accompanied participants ahead of Saturday’s rest day in the race.

The rally began Jan 1 with a so-called liaison stage starting in Buenos Aires. The race is being staged in Argentina and Chile for the third consecutive year, after security problems drove the event out of its original location in Africa.

Traversing more than 9,500 km including 5,000 km of timed specials, the Dakar Rally is scheduled to end Jan 15 in the Argentine capital, where winners are to be celebrated a day later.

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