Sainz extends Dakar lead
|By Steven English||Wednesday, January 5th 2011, 22:46 GMT|
Carlos Sainz celebrated his 20th career Dakar Rally stage victory on Wednesday and extended his overall lead as the event moved into Chile.
But it was event record holder Stephane Peterhansel's who looked more likely to add to his tally early on in the day's running - which began at an altitude of 3300 metres in the Atacama Desert.
Peterhansel's BMW led through the 80km checkpoint, 15 seconds quicker than Sainz, but he was delayed by a puncture later in the day and slipped to third behind Sainz's Volkswagen team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah.
"It could've been a good day because we were in the lead at the intermediate points," said Peterhansel. "But we got a flat tyre and had to change the wheel, which took two or three minutes. That's what we needed to win the stage.
"It means we're navigating well and we aren't having problems on high altitude tracks either. So, even if it wasn't our strategy to be third for tomorrow, it hasn't turned out to bad in the end. By setting off in third we can gain back a handful of precious minutes."
Sainz was relieved to take the victory but insists he is not in a comfortable lead of the event despite his lead climbing above four minutes.
"There was some navigation work, a bit of off-track driving, but I think that it will be tomorrow when things will get serious," said Sainz. "Peterhansel, Al Attiyah and even [Giniel] de Viliers are dangerous rivals. We're very close to each other in the standings."
De Villiers was fourth on today's stage ahead of fellow Volkswagen runner Mark Miller, who moved back into the overall top 10. Orlando Terranova completed the top six in his BMW, cementing his place in sixth overall.
Stage four results: Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen 1h57m09s 2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen +50s 3. Stephane Peterhansel BMW +1m22s 4. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen +2m17s 5. Mark Miller Volkswagen +2m43s 6. Orlando Terranova BMW +4m04s 7. Guerlain Chicherit Mini +4m38s 8. Krzysztof Holowczyc BMW +5m56s 9. Leonid Novitskiy BMW +10m35s 10. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi +11m23s Overall standings: Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen 11h09m14s 2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen +4m24s 3. Stephane Peterhansel BMW +5m41s 4. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen +19m14s 5. Krzysztof Holowczyc BMW +27m45s 6. Orlando Terranova BMW +33m11s 7. Leonid Novitskiy BMW +49m40s 8. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi +59m45s 9. Nani Roma Nissan +1h08m32s 10. Mark Miller Volkswagen +1h08m36s