Al-Attiyah Wins Dakar Rally Stage; Howes Leads Motorbikes
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia: Nasser Al-Attiyah won his third stage of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia and cut his deficit to overall leader Stephane Peteransel to five minutes on Tuesday.
Al-Attiyah won the prologue and the second stage, and had to open the 403-kilometer (250-mile) loop around Wadi Ad-Dawasir, a blend of rocky canyons and dunes.
The Qatari dominated, beating Henk Lategan of South Africa by 2 1/2 minutes. Peterhansel overcame an early puncture and was third, four minutes back.
Some contenders didn’t fare so well.
Defending champion Carlos Sainz, racing second early on, lost his way along with Saudi flagbearer Yazeed Al Rajhi. Sainz was back on track 31 minutes later and Al Rajhi after 45 minutes.
Bernhard Ten Brinke of the Netherlands, in the top five with about 40 kilometers to go, rolled his car and was receiving a competitor’s help to resume.
Peterhansel held on to the overall lead, five minutes over Al-Attiyah. Mathieu Serradori of France rose to third, 26 minutes back. Sainz was fourth, 33 minutes back, and Sebastien Loeb was sixth, 46 minutes down.
Skyler Howes of the United States became the motorbike overall leader after stage two winner Joan Barreda and defending champion Ricky Brabec went off course 40 kilometers in.
Howes came into the picture after the stage’s midpoint and finished fourth. Last year, in his second Dakar, he was ninth overall, taking a laidback approach just three months after breaking his neck. He said he has the same mindset this year.
Today the dunes flowed really well and I felt comfortable there, Howes said. Then we got out into the open desert on the really fast sandy tracks and I felt right at home. I told myself if I was feeling good, then Id let it ride.
Two-time winner Toby Price of Australia outdueled Kevin Benavides of Argentina to win the stage. Matthias Walkner, who lost two hours on Monday because of a mechanical problem, was third. Brabec was 22 minutes off the pace, and Barreda 25 minutes.
Overall, Howes led Benavides by 2 1/2 minutes, and Xavier de Soultrait was third.
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