Carlos Sainz takes Dakar Rally lead following 33rd career stage win in deserts of Neom

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Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team's Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz during stage 3 in the deserts of Neom. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 January 2020

Carlos Sainz takes Dakar Rally lead following 33rd career stage win in deserts of Neom

  • After struggling Monday, Attiyah’s teammate and ex-Formula One driver Fernando Alonso came in fifth
  • Overnight leader Orlando Terranova of Argentina and second stage winner Giniel de Villiers of South Africa both fell back

NEOM: Spain’s two-time champion Carlos Sainz, driving a Mini, shot into the overall lead after winning Tuesday’s third stage of the Dakar Rally, his 33rd stage victory in the race being held this year in Saudi Arabia.

Sainz clocked 3hr 48.01sec around the loop-shaped 404km route setting out from the future megalopolis of Neom, in the north of the kingdom close to the Jordanian border.

Racing over a sequence of canyons and mountains on sandy terrain, climbing to this year’s summit at 1,400 meters (4,593ft) in altitude, the 57-year-old Sainz beat home Qatar’s defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah, in his Toyota, by 3:31.

“We finished the stage and today was a big day. We finished second,” said Attiyah, who suffered one flat tire and described navigation as “difficult.”

“It was a good day and we’re second in the general standings overall. Tomorrow, I hope it will be a good day because I will start behind Carlos and we can get a good time.

“We just need to finish this week and then next week we can decide to push because there are a lot of dunes.”

After struggling Monday, Attiyah’s teammate and ex-Formula One driver Fernando Alonso came in fifth.

Two Saudi drivers finished in the top 6 of a stage for the firt time in the history of the Dakar Rally after fine drives from Yasir Seaidan and Yazeed Al-Rajhi.

However, it was bad news for Emirati pilot Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al-Qassimi who crashed out and saw his Dakar Rally come to an abrupt end after wrecking his Peugeot vehicle.

Overnight leader Orlando Terranova of Argentina and second stage winner Giniel de Villiers of South Africa both trailed in behind Sainz.

Mini’s Terranova not only lost the lead in the general standings but finished 12:52 behind the stage winner, while De Villiers was 16:21 off the pace in his Toyota.

“It was really tricky navigation once more, but I managed to follow them quite easily, though, for sure, Nasser and Carlos were going really fast today,” the South African said.

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CHECK OUT PHOTOS OF STAGE 3'S ACTION

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In the motorbike category, American Honda rider Ricky Brabec dominated the stage to storm into overall lead.

Brabec finished almost 10 minutes ahead of teammate Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo, in second, with a third Honda rider, Joan Barreda Bort, rounding out the stage’s podium.

Defending champion Toby Price of Australia, finished 35 minutes off the pace on his KTM.

The stage was marked by several falls, the most dramatic arguably by Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren, who lost control of his Yamaha and was pitched violently over the handlebars into the sand after just three kilometers. He received medical treatment on site, but was forced to withdraw from the rest of the race.

Wednesday’s fourth stage sees the rally leave northwestern Saudi Arabia, a 453km special on a mix of sandy stretches and gravel sections, mostly on tracks, past Nabaetean temples toward the historic walled city of AlUla.


Booker’s 35 points lead surprising Suns past Heat 119-112

Updated 09 August 2020

Booker’s 35 points lead surprising Suns past Heat 119-112

  • The Suns continued to thrive as the only undefeated team in the NBA restart
  • Miami is currently the No. 4 team in the Eastern Conference playoff standings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Devin Booker scored 35 points and Jevon Carter added a season-high 20 points as the Phoenix Suns remained undefeated in the NBA restart, beating the Miami Heat 119-112 on Saturday night.
Carter made six of eight 3-pointers as the Suns improved to 5-0 in the restart.
“I think this bubble opportunity was big for us and we’re taking advantage of it,” Booker said.
Miami is currently the No. 4 team in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro each had 25 points to lead the Heat.
The Suns continued to thrive as the only undefeated team and biggest surprise in the Disney bubble.
Phoenix began the restart schedule with the second-worst record of the 22 teams in the field and the worst mark in the Western Conference.
“I just think we had a group who wanted to come here and prove they were worthy of being here,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “They heard a lot of stuff that was being said.”
The Suns have played like serious playoff contenders. Led by Booker, Phoenix had wins over Washington, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana before beating Miami. The Suns entered Saturday’s schedule only 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Memphis.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his team must be better at winning battles for the ball.
“Those second-chance opportunities during those swing moments during the course of the game really kept us at bay and kept them in control when they needed to do it,” Spoelstra said.
Miami had an opportunity late in the game.
Three free throws by Robinson cut the Suns’ lead to 115-112 before Miami’s Bam Adebayo was called for goaltending on a shot by Booker. The review with 11.2 seconds remaining confirmed the call and extended the lead to five points.
Led by its backcourt scoring from Herro and Robinson, Miami quickly led by double figures at 19-8. The Heat couldn’t pull away and the teams were tied at 60-all at halftime. The Suns led 88-86 entering the final period.

TIP-INS
Suns: Rookie F Cameron Johnson made two 3-pointers in the first half, becoming the fastest player to reach 100 career 3s in team history. ... Ricky Rubio had seven points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Deandre Ayton had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Heat: Goran Dragic (sprained left ankle) missed his second straight game. Jimmy Butler (sore right ankle) missed his third straight game. Kendrick Nunn and KZ Okpala were held out for personal reasons.

TURN UP THE HEAT
Miami is facing pressure to protect its No. 4 spot in the East. It is only one game ahead of Philadelphia and Indiana, now tied for fifth. Two of Miami’s three remaining games before the playoffs are against Indiana.
“We also want to continue to get healthy and the No. 1 priority will be getting ready for the playoffs and getting our game right,” Spoelstra said.


RUNNING THE SHOW
Herro is being given more responsibility as the point guard and said he “felt comfortable” in the role.
“I’ve been working really hard with the ball in my hands,” Herro said, adding Spoelstra “has really been helping me a lot. My teammates are starting to trust me more. I’m still young and I’m learning a lot.”

UP NEXT
Suns: Play the Thunder on Monday.
Heat: Play the Pacers on Monday night.