SAUDI ARABIA: Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah won stage eight of the Dakar Rally on Monday, covering the 375 kilometres of the timed special between Sakaka and Neom in Saudi Arabia in just under three hours.
Three-time champion Al-Attiyah has now won four of eight stages of this year’s edition as well as the prologue but still trails Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel by 4min 50sec.
Last year’s winner Carlos Sainz finished 52sec behind Al-Attiyah along the Red Sea coastline, with Peterhansel third as he stayed on course to capture a record-extending 14th Dakar title.
Sainz is third overall at 38min 55sec ahead of Tuesday’s ninth stage, a 579km loop on sandy tracks around Neom that is expected to be one of the toughest of the rally.
Chile’s Jose Ignacio Cornejo extended his advantage in the motorbike category with his first stage victory of the event.
Cornejo gained over a minute on nearest rival Toby Price, having led by just one second on Sunday.
American Ricky Brabec, winner of the 2020 rally, was almost three minutes adrift in third.
French rider Xavier de Soultrait withdrew from the competition following a heavy crash on stage eight. He was taken to hospital in Tabuk for observation and had been fourth overall at the time.
De Soultrait was considered among the favourites and had briefly occupied first place last week following stage four.
Britain’s Sam Sunderland is third overall, 5min 57sec off the pace after crossing fourth in Monday’s special, with Brabec in sixth at 17min 42sec. – AFP