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Peterhansel wins Dakar Rally 30 yrs after first victory

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Jan 16, (AP): Stephane Peterhansel managed Nasser Al-Attiyah on the last stage to win the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, 30 years after he first won the world’s toughest rally. Peterhansel took a handy 15-minute lead into the 12th and final stage from Yanbu, and stuck close to Al-Attiyah, who gained only 40 seconds overall on the 200-kilometer (125-mile) special south to Jeddah, where the race began on Jan 3. The victory was the 14th for the Frenchman dubbed “Mr Dakar.” It was his record-extending eighth in a car, on a third different continent. They follow his record six victories on a motorbike, the first in 1991 when the race used to start in Paris and finish in Dakar, Senegal. He’s 55 and still buzzed by competing and winning. “It’s still the same emotion for the 14th victory,” he said.

“There are no easy victories on the Dakar. This one from the outside maybe looked easy, but it was not easy every day to manage the small gap over Nasser. There was a lot of pressure on the body. We felt every day that we had everything to lose.” He led the race from stage two. From that day he was off the podium in a stage only once (a fourth), and paid tribute to the navigation skills of his new co-pilot Edouard Boulanger, another former motorbike race in the Dakar. The closest Al-Attiyah got to Peterhansel overall in the second week was five minutes on Monday. He was undone by 16 punctures. The three-time champion from Qatar was runner-up for a fifth time and more disappointed than last year, when his Toyota also split the Minis of Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz

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