Dakar: Despres and Peterhansel take the lead before crossing into Chile

Frenchmen climed the general ranking in the motorcycle and car categories in the race that has crossed over to the Atacama Desert.


The Frenchmen Cyril Despres and Stephane Peterhansel became the new leaders of the 2010 Dakar rally in the motorcycle and car categories after the third stage of the reace was held, the last one prior to crossing the Andes Mountains into Chile.

Backed by his victories in 2005 and 2007 and riding a KTM, this Monday Despres snatched the lead in the general ranking away from his fellow countryman David Casteu (Sherco) during the special 182-kilometer timed staged between the cities of La Rioja and Fiambalá, while the Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) came in third.

In cars, Peterhansel (BMW) ratified his nine earlier victories in the competition, three of which were on four wheels, taking first place after leaving behind the Volkswagens driven by the Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz, and the US driver Mark Miller.

In the truck category the Russian Vladimir Chagin (Kamaz) held onto his privileged position in the ranking, escorted by his compatriot Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) and André de Azevedo (Tatra), while the Argentines Marcos and Alejandro Patrolnelli, both from Yamaha, are celebrating their provisional lead in the quad bike category.

This Tuesday the Dakar caravan will dispute the fourth stage among the sand and dunes of the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world, with 163 kilometers of speed to the city of Copiapó, located 803 kilometers north of the capital Santiago.