Al-Attiyah grabs lead from Sainz in Dakar Rally
COPIAPO, Chile – Nasser Al-Attiyah overtook Volkswagen teammate Carlos Sainz for the overall lead in the cars category of the Dakar Rally by winning the eighth leg Monday.
Al-Attiyah finished 6 minutes, 36 seconds ahead of Sainz to push him 5:14 ahead of the defending champion in the overall standings. Giniel de Villiers of South Africa was third in the stage, 17:22 behind, and 48:45 back to be third overall.
In bikes, Spain’s Marc Coma won the stage and stretched his overall lead over Cyril Despres. Coma finished 1:55 ahead of Despres, the defending champion, and 4:21 ahead of Francisco Lopez Contardo of Chile. Coma leads his KTM teammate Despres in the overall by 9:19. Lopez Contardo is third, trailing by 22:48.
The victory gave a giant boost to Al-Attiyah, who finished second last year to Sainz.
“I can control the race now,” said Al-Attiyah, who said this stage was one of his favorites. “In the last section of dunes, we were pushing at a maximum because that was where we had to take the time from Sainz. I’m quite happy to win the stage, quite happy. It was a difficult stage because I was opening all the way, but the dunes are my favorite terrain and I was really pushing to the limit.”
Barring a major accident, cars and bikes are now just two-man races.
The rally stays in the Copiapo area for the ninth stage Tuesday before heading back across the Andes to Argentina on Wednesday. The rally ends Sunday in Buenos Aires.