|SA-Dakar: Al Attiyah, Sainz and De Villiers wins, Peterhansel looses time.|
Today’s special stage started 208 kilometers along the coast from Arica towards Iquique and was split into two sections by a neutralisation route of 151 kilometers. The special began at over 1,100 metres above sea level and included four passage controls at the 91km, 176km, 192km and 593km points in a route of 611km, including the asphalt neutralisation.
The stage included a series of treacherous dune crossings and a wide range of rocky, stony and sandy surfaces, including a spectacular dune crossing at the finish into the bivouac near Antofagasta. But race officials decided to cancel the second section on safety grounds for competitors running at the rear of the field and the special was, therefore, reduced to just 252 kilometers.
Volkswagen-driver Nasser Al-Attiyah edged in front from the start of the special and maintained his lead over Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers, but Peterhansel had dropped 5:42 by the first passage control after 91 km because of a puncture and running in a rival’s dust but was still in a virtual seventh on the stage. He remained 6:19 behind the Qatari at PC2 after a series of dune crossings, although he had made up two positions on the special.
By PC3, Al-Attiyah was still 1m 10s in front of his Spanish team-mate and Peterhansel was 6:40 adrift. Terranova was enjoying a fine stage in his X-raid BMW X3 CC and was classified in fifth at PC1 and fourth through the subsequent two PCs. Peterhansel and Holowczyc managed to reach the finish in fourth and fifth positions, but Terranova rolled before the finish and undid all the morning’s hard work.
"We had a very difficult stage" said Al Attiyah. "We quickly joined Carlos Sainz but it was impossible to overtake him because of the dust. We decided not to take any chances and stayed in his tail. We still took 1'20 back from him and I am thrilled to be the winner of today's special stage" said the Qatari.
"From now on, I really have to attack. In order to avoid flat tires, we have to avoid sliding sidways too much. Last year, I had 6 flat tires. This year, I really focused on my driving to avoir flats and stay on course as much as possible."
2011/01/09 | 19:01 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/PERKINS/ASO