x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Marc Coma continues on with big motorcycling lead at Dakar Rally

The Spaniard came second behind Joan Barreda Bort in the seventh stage on Sunday, but maintained a comfortable overall lead, while UAE-born Sebastian Husseini came second in quads.

Marc Coma of Spain has a 38-minute lead in the motorbike section at the Dakar Rally. Juan Karita / AP
Marc Coma of Spain has a 38-minute lead in the motorbike section at the Dakar Rally. Juan Karita / AP

UYUNI, Bolivia // Carlos Sainz of Spain won the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally on Sunday, while countryman Nani Roma maintained a large lead in the overall standings for cars.

The car division drove a 500-kilometer loop near Salta, Argentina, and Sainz took advantage of a speedy special suited to his buggy to lead for the entire day and win his second stage of the race and 27th in his Dakar history.

He was followed in rapid succession by Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, defending champion Stephane Peterhansel of France, and Roma.

Roma took the overall lead Thursday and aims to become only the third man to win the Dakar both on a motorbike (2004) and in a car.

Peterhansel, second overall, had to slow for herds of llama and could only cut his deficit to Roma by two minutes to be 32 minutes behind. Third-place Giniel de Villiers, the 2009 champ and runner-up last year, suffered a puncture and finished eighth on the stage and dropped 48 minutes off the pace.

Unlike the cars, the motorbikes took the Dakar into Bolivia for the first time, but heavy rain on Saturday forced organizers to lop 300 kilometers of muddy track off the special, leaving only a 100-kilometer race to the edge of the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest and highest salt flats at 3,600 meters (11,800 feet).

Bolivia President Evo Morales was on hand to greet stage winner Joan Barreda Bort of Spain, his third win of the race and eighth in his career.

Barreda’s compatriot Marc Coma was second, and remained the overall leader, 38 minutes ahead of Barreda, the only rider within an hour of Coma.

The biggest loser was Alain Duclos of France, the sixth-stage winner, who got lost early and took 20 minutes to find his way. He fell more than an hour behind Coma overall and dropped from third to fourth.

On Monday, cars and motorbikes face another speedy leg into Calama, Chile.

In quads, Dubai-born Sebastian Husseini finished second in the seventh stage, 7 min 40 sec behind Chilean Ignacio Casale. He remains in fourth overall, 3 hrs 24 min off leader Casale – sandwiched 2 hrs 55 min behind third-placed Rafal Sonik of Poland and 2 hrs 47 min ahead of Qatari Mohammed Abu Issa in fifth.