The Chilean López and the Spaniard Sainz shine out after completing the first third of the Dakar race

 The local motorcycle rider won the fifth stage
of the race in the Atacama Desert, while the rally driver went on to take the lead
in the general car standings. 

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The crossing of Chile’s Atacama Desert brought
novelties for the 2010 Dakar race, with the local motorcycle rider Francisco
“Chaleco” López and the Spanish driver Carlos Sainz flying through the dunes in
the fifth stage, which marked the end of the first third of the most demanding
race on the international car racing calendar.

 

Though the Frenchman Cyril Despres (KTM)
continues to lead on two wheels, the national racer riding an Aprilia climed to
second place in the general standings after winning the 670 kilometer special
stage betweent the cities of Copiapó and Antofagasta, with the Frenchman and
the Porguese rider Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) escorting him.

 

In the car category, the Madrid native Carlos
Sainz  benefited from multiple champion
Stéphane Peterhansel’s (BMW) abandonment and drove his Valkswagen Touareg very
quickly to take the lead, with his teammates Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) and Mark
Miller (United States) his main challengers.

 

On quad bikes, the Argentine idol Marcos
Patronelli (Yamaha) has a relatively comfortable lead, while in trucks the
Russian crew led by Vladimir Chagin is holding onto first place. 

The rally
caravan will continue northward this Thursday, when it covers the 418
kilometers of the open mining territory that separate the cities of Antofagasta
and Iquique on the Pacific Ocean coast, 1,800 kilometers north of the capital
Santiago.