T he Dakar crime thriller 2011 always comes to a head further to. After a total of 5,657 kilometers, the two leaders are separated by just 3:18 minutes. On the ninth stage over 235 kilometers around the northern Chilean mining town of Copiapo, Carlos Sainz was able to reduce his deficit on teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah by another 1:56 minutes.
Sainz cannot shake Al-Attiyah
So there could be another blink of an eye like 2010. Last year, Sainz won the 'Dakar' with the narrowest lead of 2:12 minutes on Al-Attiyah. On Tuesday it even looked as if the Spaniard could take the lead. But Al-Attiyah did not let himself be shaken off by a tire damage.
'After a few kilometers we were able to catch up with our team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah, who had opened the stage,' reports Sainz. 'In a dry river bed we took the chance to overtake him. Then the contact was broken because he probably had a puncture. But he was able to catch up again in the dunes. He must have given a lot of gas there.'
Al-Attiyah wants to counter again on Wednesday
Al-Attiyah was satisfied with the damage limitation: 'This is exactly how it works when you have to open the stage. We had no clues for orientation and so could mine Team mate Carlos Sainz passed us early. In his dust we hit a rock unlucky and had to change a tire. In the dunes I was able to close the gap again and cross the finish line almost at the same time. '
Al-Attiyah wants to strike back on Wednesday. 'Then Carlos has the disadvantage of opening the route. If we could catch up with him, we would just have to stick with him to make up for the two minutes lost today. But that's only the theory.'
Again problems for Peterhansel
Behind the top duo, Dirk von Zitzewitz from Karlshof and his South African driver Giniel de Villiers defended third, 55:51 minutes behind. The Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel is already 1:42:48 hours behind in the BMW X3 and has no chance of his tenth Dakar victory on his own.
Once again, things did not go according to plan for the Dakar record winner: ' It was very rocky in the middle of the stage. We took some gas off then, 'explained Peterhansel.'In the end we made a navigation mistake and lost four minutes. It wasn't a good day, but it was better than yesterday.' Behind Peterhansel, the American Mark Miller (2.45: 19 hours) took fifth place in the fourth and last factory Volkswagen.
Kahle still in the top ten
The seven-time German Rally champion Matthias Kahle (Cologne) and his Hamburg co-driver Thomas Schünemann remained in tenth place overall (lag: 7:43:06 hours) in the SMG buggy, the best two-wheel drive car.