Pressure on Carlos Sainz as Stephane Peterhansel edges Nasser Al-Attiyah in Dakar Rally Stage 9

Driver Stephane Peterhansel, of France, and co-driver Paulo Fiuza, of Portugal, race their Miniduring stage nine of the Dakar Rally between Wadi Al Dawasir and Haradth, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Pressure on Carlos Sainz as Stephane Peterhansel edges Nasser Al-Attiyah in Dakar Rally Stage 9

  • The veteran Spaniard, in his Mini, was off the leading duo’s pace all stage
  • Local favorite Yasir Seaidan (Race) came in third

HARADH: Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel edged defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah by just 15 seconds to win stage nine of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday as pressure mounted on overall leader Carlos Sainz.
Nicknamed ‘Mr. Dakar’ for his 13 previous Dakar victories (seven in a car and six on a bike), Mini driver Peterhansel clocked 3hr 08min 31sec on the 410km special of the mammoth 886km stage. It was his third stage win of this Dakar, being held for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
“Today it was, again, a stage with full attack,” said Peterhansel. “We tried to push at full attack from the beginning, but never opening the gas too much.”

Local favorite Yasir Seaidan (Race) came in third while overall race leader Sainz finished fifth, 6min 31sec off the pace.
The veteran Spaniard, in his Mini, was off the leading duo’s pace all stage, and sees his lead cut to just 24sec over Toyota’s Al-Attiyah.
Peterhansel remains in third place in the general classification, 6:38 off the pace.
Al-Attiyah said he was content with a good day’s racing.

“We tried to do our best and today I think we did a really good stage,” said the driver who has represented Qatar in six Olympic Games, winning bronze in the men’s skeet event in London in 2012.
“I’m quite happy to close the gap with Carlos.
“I think tomorrow and after tomorrow will be very, very difficult for everybody. It’s good tomorrow that Stephane is opening on marathon day. We’ll see now about Carlos, but, okay, it looks like the three cars are very close together. For all three of us, it is possible that one can win the Dakar.”
Peterhansel added: “We’ll try to keep the pressure on the leader.”
In the motorbike category, resuming after stage eight was canceled following the death of Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves, Pablo Quintanilla notched up his first win.

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READ MORE: Dedicated Arab News Dakar Rally spotlight

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The Chilean, on a Husqvarna, won the special with a lead of almost two minutes over Australia’s defending champion Toby Price.
As a result, he continues to put pressure on general standings leader Ricky Brabec, the American Honda rider nevertheless managing to limit the damage (+20:53) by finishing less than four minutes behind the day’s winner in fourth spot.
Wednesday’s stage 10 from Haradh to Shubaytah takes competitors into the infamous ‘Rub Al-Khali’ or ‘Empty Quarter’, a huge sand desert that spreads from host country Saudi Arabia into neighboring Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Vast off-road expanses feature, with the last 30 kilometers of the stage going right through the dunes in what promises to be a tough challenge.

 

 


What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

Updated 03 June 2020

What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

  • Restart to begin with 2 matches on June 17, to ensure every side played same number of games

LONDON: The Premier League's return is just two weeks away but there are plenty of details for the 20 clubs in the English top-flight to work out before competitive action resumes on June 17.

AFP Sport looks at what is on the agenda at the latest in a series of meetings between the clubs on Thursday.

There have been squabbles over how final league standings should be decided if the season cannot be completed but clubs need a contingency arrangement if a spike in coronavirus cases wrecks their plans.

Most of the teams in the bottom half of the table are reportedly pushing for relegation to be scrapped if the season is not completed on the field.

That still seems highly unlikely, with the English Football Association and English Football League both insisting on promotion and relegation throughout the pyramid.

A points-per-game formula is the most likely option and is part of the reason why the restart will begin with two matches on June 17, to ensure every side has played the same number of games.

Once the two outstanding games — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United — have been played, all 20 sides will have nine games remaining.

No dates for other matches have yet been released, but fixtures are expected to continue from where they left off in March and be crammed into just five weeks ahead of the FA Cup final on August 1.

A long layoff, little time together in contact training and a gruelling schedule mean players' bodies will be pushed to the limits.

In an attempt to minimize injuries and fatigue, world governing body FIFA has allowed leagues to temporarily change their rules to allow five substitutes.

Chelsea have also reportedly proposed increasing the number of substitutes available from seven to nine.

However, critics have suggested those changes will simply play into the hands of the bigger clubs with deeper squads.

Premier League clubs appear to have won their battle to have games played in their own grounds rather than on neutral sites.

However, the UK's national lead for football policing confirmed last week that a "small number" of fixtures will take place at neutral venues.

That is likely to include any match that could see Liverpool crowned champions for the first time in 30 years, to try and avoid crowds gathering at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unconcerned by playing at neutral venues, with results from four rounds of Germany's Bundesliga showing no advantage for home sides in a closed-doors environment.

"We will not have the help from the crowd but no team will have that, so where is the advantage?" Klopp told the BBC.

"Whoever we play it is the same situation, which is why I'm not too worried about it."

The use of VAR could also be dispensed with for the rest of the season should the clubs wish to further cut the number of people required for games to go ahead.

However, the Premier League's CEO Richard Masters is keen for it to remain.

"VAR has its own social-distancing issues, but we think there is a way of completing the season with VAR," Masters told Sky Sports.