Dakar Rally 2020

Sainz extends his Dakar lead, Sunderland crashes out

Defending champion Al Attiyah second for Toyota and De Villiers lies seventh

09 January 2020 - 18:43 By Reuters
Carlos Sainz in the Mini buggy continues to lead the Dakar Rally.
Carlos Sainz in the Mini buggy continues to lead the Dakar Rally.
Image: Reuters

Spaniard Carlos Sainz extended his Dakar Rally lead with a second stage win in five days on Thursday while Britain's Sam Sunderland, motorcycle champion in 2017, crashed out in the Saudi desert.

Sainz, a two-time Dakar winner, finished almost three minutes ahead of closest rival and defending champion Nasser al-Attiyah to forge five minutes and 59 seconds clear of the Qatari.

French driver Stephane Peterhansel, a record 13-time Dakar winner on two wheels and four, was third overall but nearly 18 minutes behind Mini team mate Sainz.

“We gained three minutes, it was not easy, we had to push really hard at the end,” said Sainz, who also won the third stage in his buggy on Tuesday.

“I’m happy, the car is working fine. We got a puncture at the beginning but we managed to come back.”

Al-Attiyah said the route from Al Ula to Ha'il had been better for buggies than his Toyota Hilux pickup but “we did what was necessary to avoid any problems.

“We had a flat tyre 5km  before the finish, but we preferred to carry on without changing the wheel. It was more camel grass than real dunes. I think we will see real dunes next week,” he added.

SA's Giniel de Villiers, having lost time on Wednesday with a series of punctures to his Toyota Hilux, is in seventh overall over 46 minutes behind.

His team mate, former double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso, is 18th in the car category and over three hours behind the leader after losing time earlier in the week when he crashed into a rock.

The rally finishes in Qiddiya on January 17.

In the motorcycle category, Australia's defending champion, Toby Price, won the day's 564km stage after KTM team mate Sunderland retired.

Organisers said the Dubai-based 30-year-old had hurt his back and left shoulder in a fall at the 187km mark but was quickly attended to and had not lost consciousness.

Sunderland had led the rally, being held in the Middle East for the first time after a decade in South America, after the second stage and was fastest on Wednesday before incurring a five-minute penalty for speeding in a neutralised section.

Price became this year's first double-stage winner but American Ricky Brabec, on a Honda, extended his overall lead to nine minutes over the Australian.