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Dakar 2009: What they said - cars pilots at the finish.

The Spanish driver Carlos Sainz finished second on today’s stage, 2.17 behind winner Nasser Al Attiyah at the end of a fast and dusty special. "After 110 km, already I was catching up with the bikes. It was difficult to overtake and rely solely on the Sentinel system, because of the dust. All I saw was dust for 250 kilometers. There was so much that I didn’t even see the Pampa."

Nasser Al Attiyah - The Qatari driver has won the first special stage of the Dakar in 2009. Without pushing his talent to the limit, he already has a slight advantage over Carlos Sainz, and is more confident than ever about his chances for victory.

"We came here to win, so of course I’m delighted to start with a stage victory. It was a fairly easy route, but still quite fast. However, it didn’t feel like I had to push it to the limit during the race. I wanted to control my speed, especially in the part where we overtook plenty of bikes, because there was a lot of dust. It was a satisfying day, because I see that I’ve finished 2.17 in front of Carlos Sainz. This proves that the car, which is totally different from last year, with a new chassis, is performing excellently. Unfortunately, there is good news but also bad news for the team, since Guerlain Chicherit rolled his car. I hope he’ll be able to carry on - it won’t be the same without him. But that’s life on a rally-raid".

His teammate and local hero Orlando Terranova finished in seventh place 5.09 behind Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah. He was the best placed of the South American drivers on this special stage.

"After 100 km, I caught up with Christian Lavieille, but it was almost impossible to overtake him. Around the 200 kilometer mark the dust was everywhere. There was everything to lose and nothing to gain in that sort of situation. After the clouds of dust, our bonnet started to pop up, so we decided to take it easy on the way to Santa Rosa. There were quite a few cars stopped by the side of the road. Some of them set off before us this morning. All in all, I’m very happy with this first stage".

2009/01/03 | 21:46 CET | Editor: MR/HS/ASO

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