|SA-Dakar: Stéphane Peterhansel with first stage win, Sainz overall leader.|
Volkswagen´s Carlos Sainz was initially leading the 5th stage about 423 kilometers from Calama to Iquique in race and then Peterhansel took the place at the front. The Frenchman extended his advantage up to 3:45 some of the time. In the second half of the special with its extreme differences in altitude of more than 3,000 metres at the start down to sea level on the Pacific coast at the finish Al-Attiyah and Sainz made up ground again though.
The gaps between the three drivers kept changing from one check point to the other by full minutes - the stage result remained open up to the finish. In the end Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk arrived 1:24 behind stage winner Peterhansel.
Sainz/Cruz, who had to open the course after having won yesterday’s stage, were lacking 3:15 to Peterhansel. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in another Race Touareg 3 reached the bivouac in fourth place, thus retaining fourth place overall.
Their team-mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) followed by finishing the special in fifth place. At the end of the stage the drivers thrilled the fans with a spectacular 2.3-kilometre descent down a steep, 700-metre high dune directly into the bivouac.
In the overall standings Carlos Sainz remain the front runners with an advantage of 2:26 after the 423-kilometre leg in the north of Chile from Calama to Iquique. Stéphane Peterhansel bumped Nasser Al-Attiyah from second to third place overall in the rally’s standings - a mere seven seconds separate the two rally pairings.
"Congratulations to Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret on their perfect day" said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen "Even though we’re not in front in terms of the stage result we’re more than pleased at Volkswagen. All four Race Touareg cars ran really well. It was difficult for our drivers and co-drivers to open the course today. After this long special stage three pairings continue to be in contention for victory."
About the sporting aspect he said: "This is a nice, exciting and fair race. We’re concentrating on continuing to do a good job in the days ahead. The ‘Dakar’ has only started in earnest today."
2011/01/05 | 20:02 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/MOSER