Nasser Al-Attiyah on brink of Dakar victory

17 January 2019 - 10:49 By Reuters
Nasser Al-Attiyah
Nasser Al-Attiyah
Image: Supplied

Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah was on the brink of a third Dakar Rally victory, and a first for Toyota, after finishing Wednesday's penultimate stage in southern Peru with a lead of 51 minutes.

Al-Attiyah won the ninth stage in the dunes and desert around Pisco, with Spaniard Nani Roma runner-up in a Mini 4x4 to end the day second overall.

France's Sebastien Loeb, a nine times world rally champion, was lying third overall but two hours off the pace.

"Until now everything has gone very well and tomorrow we just need to bring everything (together) in Lima. I'm quite happy," said Al-Attiyah, who won the rally in a Mini in 2015 and Volkswagen in 2011.

"We've followed our strategy from the beginning. We've been leading since stage three and building up the (gap) every day," added the Qatari after his third stage win of this year's event.

Thirteen-times Dakar Rally winner Stephane Peterhansel had earlier withdrawn after crashing 26km into the 312km timed stage.

The Frenchman, nicknamed 'Mr Dakar' for his success on two wheels and four, had been in fourth place at the start of the day's action.

Peterhansel's X-Raid Mini co-driver David Castera hurt his back in the accident and was taken to hospital.

"We came over a dune and landed head-on in the next dune," Peterhansel told motorsport.com. "Everything went so fast that David, who was looking at the road book at that moment, didn't expect the impact."

In the motorcycle category, Australian Toby Price stayed in front but the KTM rider's lead was on a knife edge with Chilean Pablo Quintanilla only a minute behind on his Husqvarna.

Austrian Matthias Walkner was third, on a KTM, six and a half minutes off the pace.

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