Cornejo extends lead, Peterhansel loses ground but remains on top

Sports Desk, Jan 11 (efe-epa).- Chilean rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo on Monday extended his lead in the general classification of the Dakar Rally’s motorbike competition, while French driver Stéphane Peterhansel maintained top spot despite losing some minutes to victorious Nasser al-Attiyah in cars’ category.

Cornejo (Monster Energy Honda) claimed his maiden 2021 Dakar stage win as he crossed the finish line of the 709 km-eighth stage, between Saudi Arabia’s Sakaka and Neom, one minute and six seconds ahead of Australian driver Toby Price (KTM).

 Therefore, Cornejo extended his lead over the Australian, whom he overthrew yesterday from the top spot, to one minute and six seconds, with four stages to go.

“I think that if we keep the same focus that I’ve been bringing on this race or on this last couple of days I can do pretty good. We’re very focused, but now is the time to rest and think about tomorrow’s stage,” the Dakar website cited Cornejo as saying.

The Australian’s woes continued for the second day in a row as he struggled with rear tire issues for nearly half of the stage, with yesterday’s fall leaving some stitches in his chin.

Since the racers cannot get mechanical assistant during the marathon, he had to improvise; he covered it with duct tape and a zip tie to complete the stage

 “Today I tried to fix as much as I could and when I got to refuel at 229km I saw I still had a solo zip tie on! I didn’t think I would make it to the finish, let alone 2nd in stage and still be 2nd overall!” he posted to his Twitter account afterwards.

Briton Sam Sunderland retained the third spot in the general classification, although the gap behind Price increased to 5:57, more than the two-minute-and-11-second disadvantage at the end of the previous stage.

Argentina’s Kevin Benavides and Spaniard Joan Barreda came fourth and fifth in the overall classification 12:58 and 16:05 off the pace respectively, followed by defending champion Ricky Brabec of the United States.

In the cars’ category, Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah won the eighth stage, 52 seconds ahead of defending champion Carlos Sainz of Spain and over three minutes faster than Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel (X-Raid Mini JCW).

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