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King of the desert: Dakar leader Stephane Peterhansel ploughing through the sand between Buraydah and Hail on Friday

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Sainz wins Dakar stage six, Peterhansel leads

HAIL, Saudi Arabia, Jan 8 Defending champion Carlos Sainz steered his Mini to victory in Friday’s sixth stage of the Dakar Rally as French teammate Stephane Peterhansel maintained his stranglehold on the lead of motorsport’s most gruelling rally.

The Spaniard, a three-time Dakar winner whose son Carlos Jr races for Ferrari in Formula One, timed 3hr 38min 27sec over the special, finishing 4:03 ahead of Saudi Toyota driver Yazeed al-Rajhi for his second stage win this year.

Nasser al-Attiyah was third, just ahead of France’s Peterhansel, the 13-time Dakar champion who is now leading the Qatari by 5:53 in the overall standings, with Sainz third at 40:39.

In the motorbike category, Spain’s Joan Barreda claim a third stage win this year over a course between Al-Qaisumah and Ha’il shortened by 100km after the delayed arrivals of competitors following Thursday’s stage.

The HRC rider clocked 3hr 45min 27sec over the 348km special, finishing just 13 seconds in front of the Yamaha ridden by Botswanan Ross Branch and 0.53 ahead of Australian Daniel Sanders’ KTM.

Two-time champion Toby Price of Australia (KTM) took the lead in the overall standings, 2:16 ahead of Honda rider Kevin Benavides, the Argentinian who suffered a broken nose and injured ankle in a crash on Thursday’s stage which he still won.

Overnight leader Xavier de Soultrait fell to fifth, while defending champion Ricky Brabec of the United States is down in 13th, 19:56 off Price’s leading time.

Price, who won the Dakar in 2016 and 2019, said all the riders had benefitted from a shortened stage going into a rest day.

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“These two boys behind me, they led out all day and were absolutely on fire, the pace was crazy,” he said.

“It’s been a mixed bag of everything really, so it’s been up and down everywhere. All in all, we’re still in the fight, we’re still there in the race.”

Price added that “anything can happen, there’s a long way to go”.

“Everything is good and hopefully the bike will get us through the second week.”

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