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Carlos Sainz takes overall lead in Dakar Rally
Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn
Spain's former world rally champion Carlos Sainz overcame poor visibility to take the overall lead in a congested Dakar Rally on Sunday after winning the second stage, a 237km special from Santa Rosa to Puerto Madryn.

The Volkswagen driver finished ahead of the Mitsubishi of France's Stephane Peterhansel, the defending champion, by 1min 14sec, and 1:56 in front of his South African teammate Giniel De Villiers.

Saturday's opening stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, in a BMW, finished ninth, 6min 32sec behind Sainz.

"It was a very difficult stage with all the dust and the bikes," admitted Sainz who won the Rally of Argentina twice during his world rally championship career.

"At times, we nearly had to stop. I even hit a biker at one point; I hope he's going to be OK."

Peterhansel, who is bidding for a 10th Dakar title after winning the motorcycle section six times and the car event on three occasions, was satisfied with his second place after a disappointing sixth spot in Saturday's opener from Buenos Aires.

"This special stage was a bit more technical. There was some off-terrain work for the first time, so we had to be on our guard," he explained.

"I caught up with (Mitsubishi teammate) Luc (Alphand) at one point. After that, we ended up in the dust thrown up by the bikers.

"There were some sections with quite thick vegetation. We were almost stopped at that point, because visibility was down to one or two meters. The bikers were all over the place, so we had to be very careful."

De Villiers too admitted visibility had been a problem.

"The start of the special was very quick, but as soon as we arrived in the off-track part, it was not very easy to navigate and we got a little bit lost. We must have lost a minute or two," he said.

"Then in the last section, there was lots of fesh-fesh (very soft sand), so it was very difficult to get past the bikers."

Dutch rider Frans Verhoeven won the motorbike stage.

The KTM rider finished ahead of France's former champion Cyril Despres (KTM) by 40 seconds while another Frenchman David Fretigne riding a Yamaha was third, 1min 04sec adrift.

"In the middle, there was a very difficult navigation section in amongst the vegetation and with the dust, it was impossible to see any tire tracks," said Verhoeven who had been fourth overnight.

"I managed to find the route and at one time I saw there were no more tire tracks in front of me, so I knew I was in the lead."

Spanish rider Marc Coma retained the overall lead despite finishing around 12 minutes behind Verhoeven.

Robby Gordon finished 10th in Sunday’s second stage at the Dakar Rally in Argentina to move up to 10th overall.

Gordon completed the Santa Rosa de la Pampa-to-Puerto Madryn stage in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 38 seconds. He is 21:32 behind leader Carlos Sainz of Spain.

The third of 15 stages is slated for Monday, from Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci, a 551-kilimoter race.

The Dakar Rally can be seen in the United States on the Versus Network and daily updates will be posted on RobbyGordon.com

Top 20 after Stage 2

Driver Car Time
C. Sainz Volkswagen 4:34.46,0
G. de Villiers Volkswagen + 2.19,0
S. Peterhansel Mitsubishi + 3.51,0
N. Al Attiyah BMW + 4.15,0
J. Roma Mitsubishi + 5.42,0
L. Alphand Mitsubishi + 6.21,0
M. Miller Volkswagen + 8.20,0
O. Terranova BMW + 9.12,0
K. Holowczyc Nissan + 11.13,0
R. Gordon Hummer + 21.32,0
G. Spinelli Mitsubishi + 22.39,0
L. Novitskiy BMW + 23.37,0
T. Magnaldi Buggy + 27.53,0
B. Szalay Opel + 29.19,0
C. Lavieille Proto + 32.14,0
C. de Gavardo Buggy + 35.11,0
I. Tollefsen Nissan + 35.50,0
S. Henrard Buggy-VW + 37.29,0
L. Palik Nissan + 37.55,0
B. Gordon Hummer + 42.57,0

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