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Al Attiyah one stage away from winning Dakar Rally

Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Pisco (Peru), January 17: Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah virtually wrapped up a third Dakar Rally title as Stephane Peterhansel's hopes of a 14th triumph on the world's most gruelling race suffered a painful end.

Al Attiyah, driving a Toyota, claimed his third stage of this year's event and will head into the final 112km run into Lima with an overall lead of 51min 27sec over Mini driver Nani Roma who was second, almost five minutes behind on the day.

34th career stage win

34th career stage win

Until now everything has gone very well and tomorrow we just need to bring everything together in Lima," said Al Attiyah after his 34th career stage win on the Dakar.

"The Dakar is really difficult. Every day we work very hard to be fast and not make mistakes. The car is good, the buggy is a good car. We've followed our strategy from the beginning. We've been leading since stage three and building up the gap every day, we're quite happy," the Red Bull athlete added.

Toyota help

Toyota help

Al Attiyah and his French navigator Mathieu Baumel is being supported every step of the way by his Toyota team-mate Giniel De Villiers.

The South African driver is sticking as close as he can to Al Attiyah out on the stage, just in case he can lend a hand along the way.

"We just tried to follow the tracks of Nasser in case he needed us, but he did a great job. For us as a team our aim is to get Nasser to the line in first place," said De Villiers.

Bad landing

Bad landing

While 2011 and 2015 champion Al Attiyah was consolidating his domination, 13-time winner Peterhansel was forced to quit after only 26 kilometres of the 313km ninth stage after a bad landing that injured co-driver David Castera's back.

"After a big impact, Castera complained of severe back pain and was transported to Lima hospital," said a spokesman for Peterahansel's X-Raid team.

Peterhansel, 53, had won two stages in this year's race, but had slipped well adrift of the overall pace set by Al Attiyah and had stood fourth overnight.

Stuck in dunes

Stuck in dunes

Nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb, in a Peugeot, also slipped down the standings after losing almost 40 minutes stuck in the dunes.

Now, only the final stage of 112 kilometres separates the convoy from the finish line. It's still be one more tricky day to navigate before successful competitors can look back on a job well done. It'll take nerves of steel to secure that spot on the podium once and for all. And then the party will start!

 
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Story first published: Thursday, January 17, 2019, 12:05 [IST]
Other articles published on Jan 17, 2019
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