Dakar Rally: Carlos Sainz wins fourth stage

  • Associated Press
  • Tuesday, January 6, 2009 12:49pm
  • SportsSports

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Spaniard Carlos Sainz won the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday, holding off Nasser Al Attiyah of Qatar to maintain the overall lead.

Sainz, who also won the rally’s second stage, finished the 236-mile ride in 3 hours, 42 minutes, 57 seconds in his Volkswagen — six seconds ahead of Al Attiyah, who won the first and third stages through Argentina and Chile. Organizers shortened the leg from 285 miles for administrative reasons.

Luc Alphand of France was third in the stage across the Patagonian steppe from Ingeniero Jacobacci to Neuquen in Argentina. Mark Miller from the United States was fourth, 4:20 behind his Volkswagen teammate, Sainz.

The Spaniard is 3 minutes, 46 seconds ahead of Al Attiyah for the overall lead.

The rally is being held in South America for the first time after being canceled in 2008 because of the threat of terrorist attacks along its traditional route through Africa.

Argentine dust rather than African sand has been an added obstacle. A persistent drought has turned much of the soil to dust, forcing drivers to navigate through clouds of brown dirt.

Cars, trucks and motorbikes have often disappeared behind the dust, spraying thousands of fans who have gathered to watch along the route, now passing through isolated towns and villages in southern Argentina.

Spaniard Marc Coma won the motorbike stage in 4:09:32. Cyril Despres of France was 1:17 back in second place, followed by Jonah Street of the United States. All three are driving for KTM.

It was the third stage win for Coma, who leads Street by nearly 43 minutes overall.

English driver Paul Green remains in serious condition in an Argentina hospital after flipping his Rally Raid UK truck Saturday during the first stage.

The 30th edition of the classic rally started from Buenos Aires on Friday with 177 cars, 217 motorbikes, 81 trucks and 25 quad bikes and features drivers from 49 countries. After 14 stages covering 5,950 miles, it will finish on Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires.

The route Wednesday covers 314 miles from Neuquen to San Rafael.

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