Mini driver Nasser Al Attiyah of Qatar competes during Stage 9 of the Dakar Rally 2014 between Calama and Iquique, Chile, yesterday. Al Attiyah earlier won the eighth stage ahead of 11-time winner Stephane Peterhansel.
CALAMA, Chile: Qatari driver Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, in a Mini, took the honours in the Dakar Rally’s eighth stage which crossed through the Andes from Bolivia into Chile yesterday ahead of 11-time winner Stephane Peterhansel.
Carlos Sainz, winner of stages four and seven, took third in the 302km timed run from the Bolivian town of Uyuni to Calama.
Spanish driver Nani Roma was sixth and he retains a 24 minute advantage over Peterhansel with South African Giniel De Villiers placed third.
Al Attiyah, who won the race in 2011, is in fifth overall, 1hr 5min adrift, the bulk of that deficit coming from a one hour penalty he picked up for missing a waypoint on last week’s fifth stage.
“I’m still a bit disappointed about the penalty,” said Al Attiyah, who won a bronze medal in the men’s skeet shooting at the 2012 London Olympics.
“But now we will try to push and make a really better time every day.”
Peterhansel said he’d found it difficult to keep tabs during the stage with Al Attiyah and Sainz.
“That said, in the end it’s not such a bad result at all, because Nani Roma had two punctures so we’ve gained some time back on him and have put some pressure on him,” he added.
“It’s never easy to be in the lead, I know all about it, and being in front for Nani is an extra bit of pressure. Behind him, we have nothing to lose...”
In the motorbike section France’s Cyril Despres, a five time winner of the toughest challenge in motorsport, emerged the winner as the 2014 edition paid its first visit to Chile after stages in Argentina and Bolivia.
He was followed across the line by Spanish pair Joan Barreda and Marc Coma. Despite claiming this 499km stage the Yamaha rider and defending champion is still way off the pace in the overall standings, almost two and a half hours behind Coma.
Today’s ninth stage takes the 2014 Dakar caravanserai from Calama across 150 kilometres of Chile’s Atacama desert with a finish in Iquique. REUTERS