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Dakar: Alphand wins stage 8

Luc Alphand took his first stage victory on SS8 of the Telefonica Dakar Rally, but his Mitsubishi team-mate Stephane Peterhansel was only a minute and a half slower and still leads by over twenty minutes in the outright standings

There was a scare for Peterhansel when he hit engine problems late in the stage, but he reached the finish and is confident that any potential technical issues can be resolved before the action recommences (after tomorrow's official rest day) on Monday.

"40 km before the end of the stage, the engine made a very strange noise," said Peterhansel. "So I drove very carefully and slowly until the finish line to take care of the car. Then, to be sure not to take any risks, we preferred to be towed by Hiroshi (Masuoka) on the two last kilometres to the bivouac. I was a bit anxious, because I wasn't sure the engine wasn't going to blow up."

Despite his huge lead, Peterhansel does not feel he is driving at his best on this year's event.

"I haven't managed impressive performances, but being constant was at least a good choice," he said.

Alphand suggested that some form of team orders might now be applied to safeguard Mitsubishi's positions, especially given the dangerous nature of the Dakar stages.

"For the moment there's no team rule, but we really should calm down our driving rhythm," he said. "We saw a lot of crashes and it isn't necessary to take so many risks. So I think the team manager will give us team rules before Kiffa."

BMW drivers José-Luis Monterde and Nasser Al-Attiyah both escaped substantial accidents within 5km of each other early on stage eight, none of the crew members suffering injuries. Monterde eventually continued in 14th place, while Al-Attiyah retired - his accident being described as "impressive" by both Masuoka and third-placed Jutta Kleinschmidt.

Former leader Bruno Saby was again in trouble, losing three hours to the leaders after encountering wheel problems and requiring assistance from VW team-mate Juha Kankkunen. He continued and is now eighth overall.

NASCAR star Robby Gordon may be down in 17th after his earlier delays, but he continues to set quick times - going third fastest on today's stage.

"I attacked all day, and I'm a little disappointed to be only third on the stage," he said. "The two Mitsubishis went really, really fast today, too fast for me.

"It's frustrating because for me the final battle is over. Now I'll just look for some stage wins and get more experience for next year."



Peterhansel/Cottret (Mitsubishi) 22h45m57s
Alphand/Picard (Mitsubishi) 23h05m58s
Kleinschmidt/Pons (VW) 23h26m23s
Sousa/Della-Zotti (Nissan) 25h25m16s
De Villiers/Lurquin (Nissan) 25h48m59s
Masuoka/Schulz (Mitsubishi) 26h38m16s
Henrard/De Roissard (VW) 26h41m58s
Saby/Perin (VW) 29h3919s
Magnaldi/Forthomme (Honda) 29h45m45s
Servia Costa/Palacios (BMW) 30h14m12s

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