RIYADH: Defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah slashed Carlos Sainz’s Dakar Rally lead to 24 seconds in the car category yesterday, while motorcycle riders returned battling their emotions as well as the tough terrain after a fatal crash at the weekend.
Qatar’s Al Attiyah, driving a Toyota, finished second behind French 13 times winner Stephane Peterhansel in the 410km ninth special stage from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh in the Saudi Arabian desert.
Two-times winner Sainz, who had led by more than six minutes at the overnight bivouac, was fifth in his Mini buggy.
Peterhansel thrust himself back into the overall reckoning, now six and a half minutes off the lead after his third stage win of the 2020 event.
Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso had another strong day and moved up to 10th overall in his Toyota.
Three days remain in the endurance event, being held in the Middle East for the first time.
Chilean Pablo Quintanilla was the motorcycle stage winner after Monday’s timed action was cancelled following the death on Sunday of Portuguese veteran Paulo Goncalves.
Quintanilla, second overall on a Husqvarna, trimmed American Honda rider Ricky Brabec’s overall lead to 20 minutes and 53 seconds.
Toby Price, the defending champion for KTM, was second on the stage and third overall, 26 minutes off the lead.
He was joined by Slovak rider Stefan Svitko and retired French Alpine skier Luc Alphand, who was on the first helicopter to land. “Helping holding drip bags, getting bags of medical equipment and guiding other riders around a bad scene. We all worked as long as we could but there was nothing we could do,” said Price.