x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Al-Attiyah hampered by flooding as rain causes chaos at Dakar Rally

Flash floods and torrential rain left Nasser Al-Attiyah stuck and brought chaos to the pack as organisers of the Dakar Rally were forced to stop the eighth stage.

Flood-hit racers in the Dakar Rally in Argentina.
Flood-hit racers in the Dakar Rally in Argentina.

Middle East racer Nasser Al-Attiyah was closing in on Dakar Rally leader Stephane Peterhansel on a day where torrential rain forced the race to stop at CP2, 88 kilometres into the stage.

The Qatari, champion in 2011, started the day in second place in the overall standings and was 13 sec ahead of America's Robby Gordon with overall leader Stephane Peterhansel, the defending champion, three minutes behind.

But as the storms worsened, Al-Attiyah got stuck and then watched several of his rivals disappear into the distance.

Guerlain Chicherit reached the finish in the fastest time with Peterhansel over 12 minutes behind while Al-Attiyah was left sweating on his fate as the stewards conferred.

"Everything was going smoothly for us, we were putting the pedal on the metal, and everything was fine," said Al-Attiyah.

"When we got to the river, there were three metres of water, there was no way we could cross that. So we called the organisers, who told us the stage had been neutralised at CP2."

Rivers overflowed and the tracks were blocked between Salta and Tucuman, leading to chaos for the drivers.

"The stewards are currently meeting to decide on the next step," David Castera, the race director, said this morning.

In the bike race David Casteu toppled Olivier Pain from the top of the general classification as Joan Barreda won the stage.

Pain paid dearly 122km into the race as he and a group of wayward riders lost almost half an hour, with the detour costing him the lead.

Sarel Van Biljon won the quads race, but Argentinian Marcos Patronelli still leads overall.

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