Roma wins Dakar Rally 9th stage, Al-Attiyah extends overall lead
Rio de Janeiro, Jan 14 (IANS)
Defending champion Nani Roma from Mini took a consolation victory in the 2015 Dakar Rally ninth stage as his teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah extended his overall lead with four days action in South America remaining. Tuesday's race started from the Chilean Pacific coastal city of Iquique to Calama in the Andes. Roma completed the 538 kilometres (450km timed) race with a six-and-a-half minutes lead over runner-up Al-Attiyah, reports Xinhua.
However, Roma's hope to defend his title this year came to a halt just a few miles from Buenos Aires, the very beginning of the first stage, as he had to wait on the stage for technical assistance, losing over eight hours to the eventual leader and all realistic chance of back-to-back wins.
At the same time, Al-Attiyah continued his dominant run this year. The 2011 Dakar winner now has a near 24-minute cushion over South African driver Giniel de Villiers after the Toyota driver made a navigation mistake and ranked fourth in the ninth stage.
Mini's domination of the podium was completed by third placed Russian Vladimir Vasilyev.
"It was not easy, but, ok, I think we did a good job of it and I hope it will be enough to win the Dakar," said the Qatari driver Al-Attiyah who has represented Qatar in shooting at the Olympics.
"I think we did a good job and to finish here in front of Giniel is the key."
In the motorbikes section, Portugal's Helder Rodrigues claimed his second stage win of the race as Marc Coma, who finished third in the stage, still topped overall standings with a lead of five minutes and 28 seconds over Goncalves in the riders' title race.
This year's event, the seventh in South America since its enforced transfer for security reasons from Africa, is the 37th of all time.