Spaniard Carlos Sainz extended his Dakar Rally lead with a second stage win in five days on Thursday while Britain’s Sam Sunderland, motorcycle champion in 2017, crashed out in the Saudi Arabian desert.
Sainz, a two-times Dakar winner, finished almost three minutes ahead of closest rival and defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah to forge five minutes and 59 seconds clear of the Qatari.
French driver Stephane Peterhansel, a record 13-times Dakar winner on two wheels and four, was third overall but nearly 18 minutes behind Mini teammate Sainz.
“We gained three minutes, it was not easy, we had to push really hard at the end,” said Sainz, who also won the third stage in his buggy on Tuesday.
“I’m happy, the car is working fine. We got a puncture at the beginning but we managed to come back.”
The rally finishes in Qiddiya on January 17.
In the motorcycle category, Australia’s defending champion, Toby Price, won the day’s 564 km stage after KTM teammate Sunderland retired.
Organizers said the Dubai-based 30-year-old had hurt his back and left shoulder in a fall at the 187 km mark but was quickly attended to and had not lost consciousness.
Sunderland had led the rally, being held in the Middle East for the first time after a decade in South America, after the second stage and was fastest on Wednesday before incurring a five-minute penalty for speeding in a neutralized section.
Carlos Sainz extends his Dakar lead, Sam Sunderland crashes out