De Villiers wins 9th stage of Dakar Rally, al-Attiyah cements overall lead

Sports Desk, Jan 11 (EFE).- Giniel De Villiers on Tuesday claimed his 18th Dakar stage win in the car category in the ninth leg of the 44th edition of the race held in Saudi Arabia, shaking off early drama.

The South African (Toyota Gazoo Racing) covered the stage held within Wadi Ad Dawasir nine seconds ahead of his countryman and teammate Henk Lategan.

De Villiers was involved in a controversy over the first couple of days of the competition, as he hit two bike riders, which cost him a five-hour penalty as he did not stop to help the second biker.

The punishment, however, was reversed as the organizers found a technical fault with the Sentinel car-to-car communication system.

“I must say, the first week was not ideal,” he said afterwards. “It was very stressful and mentally very, very tiring. Definitely something I would not like to go through again, but that’s behind us now.”

“It looks good. We had a nice clean stage today. I must say that the mechanics worked really, really hard last night because we had a problem with the dampers over the last two days or so,” he commented.

Overall leader Nasser al-Attiyah came third in Tuesday’s stage, increasing his lead over his closest rival Sebastien Loeb by one minute and seven seconds, to command by 39 minutes and five seconds with three stages to go.

The Frenchman had to settle for the fifth spot in the ninth stage, behind Sweden Mattias Ekstrom, who won the previous leg.

Local favorite Yazeed al-Rajhi is third in the overall classification, 39 minutes and 40 seconds off the pace.

In the bike category, Chile’s Nacho Conejo clinched the ninth stage, ahead of Argentine Kevin Benavides and US’ Ricky Brabec.

Briton Sam Sunderland dropped to second spot in the overall classification two minutes and 12 seconds behind new leader Australia’s Matthias Walkner. Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren is third. EFE


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