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Death of rider Cherpin clouds Dakar finale Peterhansel, Benavides win

Sports Desk, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel sealed his 14th Dakar Rally win in the car category on Friday while Argentine Kevin Benavides won his first motorbike title on a day marred by the death of Frenchman Pierre Cherpin, five days after he crashed during the event.

Mini driver Peterhansel’s victory came as little surprise given his advantage over his Qatari rival Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) heading into the final stage of the 43rd Dakar Rally, held for the second consecutive year in Saudi Arabia.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz, the defending champion, came third.

“It’s still the same emotion for the 14th victory,” Peterhansel said upon completing the final stage in Jeddah. “Like I said, to win the Dakar is always really complicated. There are no easy victories on the Dakar.”

Al-Attiyah said: “Of course, I am disappointed, but thankfully we’ve finished the race. I am really proud of the team and what we have done since I joined the team. I am sure we will come back stronger next year and we can obtain victory.”

Meanwhile, third-place Sainz, whose hope of victory was dashed by breakdowns, punctures and navigational errors, acknowledged the setbacks he faced.

“A podium finish is always important, but I cannot be one hundred percent happy, because we had the opportunity to fight for the victory, but we did not do such a good job with the navigation and the road-book,” he said.

In the motorbike category, Honda rider Benavides became the first South American participant to win the Dakar Rally.

“I think it’s impossible to do a perfect Dakar. The important thing is to always continue, to stay calm and focused day by day and to work hard day by day,” he said.

“I am really proud to be the first South American winner. My dream was also to make history and now I am the first South American guy to win the Dakar.”

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