Nasser Al-Attiyah wins 2015 Dakar Rally
Buenos Aires, Jan 18 (IANS)
Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah claimed his second Dakar Rally title after a gruelling 9,000 kilometres of race concluded here. Al-Attiyah dominated the car category for entire two-week rally. The Mini driver won the first stage, was handed down a time penalty for speeding in the link section, but he took the overall lead at the end of the second stage again and kept it until the end Saturday with five stage wins in all, reported Xinhua.
The 44-year-old Al-Attiyah, also the 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner in skeet shooting, won his second Dakar Rally win after winning the most prestigious rally in 2011.
"I'm delighted I've won the Dakar! It's fantastic because we've dominated the race from the beginning and were able to control the rally throughout. I've got lots of people to thank for this," said Al-Attiyah.
"I came to the Dakar in top form, both physically and mentally. Then, we managed to do our job day after day. It's fantastic. Now I want to win even more."
Al-Attiyah finished sixth in the 13th stage from Rosario to Buenos Aires which was shortened to only 34 kilometres due to heavy rain.
With a healthy overall lead set in the previous stages, Al-Attiyah was eventually 35.34 minutes ahead of second-placed South African Ginel de Villiers, who drives for Toyota, in the overall standings. Another Mini driver Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland finished third.
Spaniard Marc Coma, 38, claimed the title in the motorcycle competition. It was the fifth time that he has won the Dakar Rally.
During the 13-day tough event, only 216 competitors (79 motorcycles, 18 quads, 68 cars and 51 trucks) out of the 420, who started the rally, managed to finish the 2015 Dakar Rally.
Polish motorbike rider Michal Hernik was found dead in the third stage, 300 metres from the desert track without his helmet and with no apparent injury and damage to his motorbike that would indicate an accident.
His was the fifth death since the rally was moved to South America in 2009 over security concerns in the Sahara region and the 24th since the race was created in 1979.