Carlos Sainz stretches Dakar Rally lead after navigating Stage 10 through Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter

Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team's Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz during Stage 10 of the Dakar Rally through Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Carlos Sainz stretches Dakar Rally lead after navigating Stage 10 through Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter

  • Sainz took full advantage of navigational problems by closest rivals Nasser Al-Attiyah
  • Fernando Alonso, the two-time former Formula One champion, lost more than an hour after double rolling his Toyota

SHUBAYTAH: Spanish veteran Carlos Sainz stretched his lead atop the overall Dakar Rally standings by winning the 10th stage through the dunes of Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter on Wednesday.
The 57-year-old Mini driver clocked 2hr 03min 43sec on a stage shortened by high winds to a 233km special between Haradh and Shubaytah, finishing ahead of Poland’s Jakub Przygonski (Mini) and South African Giniel de Villier (Toyota).
Sainz took full advantage of navigational problems by closest rivals Nasser Al-Attiyah, the defending champion, and France’s ‘Mr. Dakar’, Stephane Peterhansel.
Peterhansel, who has won the Dakar 13 times (seven times in a car and six times on a bike), finished 11min 48sec off Sainz’s pace, while Qatar’s Al-Attiyah was further back, at 17:46.
The result means Sainz, with two stages to go, now sits 18:10 ahead of Al-Attiyah and 18:26 in front of Peterhansel.
“It was a dangerous stage with lots of difficult dunes,” Peterhansel said.
“Several kilometers before the neutralized section, we got completely lost with Nasser and other drivers. Some drivers got there at the right time, when we eventually found the right way and gained a lot of time.
“In the end, it’s a good stage for my team-mate Carlos who has opened up a gap on Nasser, whilst we have got a bit closer to Nasser even if we are still in third position.”
Dakar debutant Fernando Alonso, the two-time former Formula One champion, lost more than an hour after double rolling his Toyota, an accident that saw the Spaniard carry on driving with no windscreen.
American Ricky Brabec increased his lead in the general standings of the motorbike category with a second-placed finish.
The HRC rider now leads Chilean Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) by 25 minutes and stage winner Joan Barreda of Spain by 27 minutes.
Thursday’s penultimate stage 11 sees competitors negotiate 744km, featuring a 379km special, from Shubaytah back to Haradh.


Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

Updated 12 August 2020

Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

  • Inter reach their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League

MILAN: A record-breaking Romelu Lukaku is leading Inter Milan's chase for their first trophy in 9 years.

Eyebrows were raised last year when Inter shelled out a club record of around €65 million ($73 million) plus €13 million  ($15 million) in bonuses for Lukaku, who had had a disappointing final season at Manchester United.

However, Lukaku swiftly developed a scintillating partnership with Lautaro Martínez and their goals helped Inter sustain a title challenge before eventually finishing second in Serie A, a point behind Juventus.

Inter scored 81 league goals — well above the paltry 57 they managed in the previous campaign.

Lukaku scored again on Monday and set up another to help Inter beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to reach the Europa League semifinals.

“Romelu has never played so well, not even in the past,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.

The Belgian forward became the first player to find the net in nine consecutive Europa League games, surpassing the eight set by Alan Shearer for Newcastle in 2005.

Lukaku’s 31st goal of the season took him past the 30-mark for the first time in his career.

“I’ve always wanted to win, ever since I was little,” Lukaku said. “I’ve always said that I will give my all for this team.

“We’re a great team; my teammates help me a lot, otherwise I couldn’t do these things and achieve these numbers ... my teammates look for me. We’re doing well together, all of us.”

Inter reached their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League as well as Serie A and the Italian Cup to complete a historic treble.

They retained the Italian Cup the following year but have not managed to lift silverware since.

The Nerazzurri play Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel in the semifinals on Monday.

After an intense period of playing matches approximately every three days after soccer restarted following the pandemic-enforced shutdown, Conte has almost a week to prepare his players.

He will want to make sure they understand that profligacy can prove costly at this level.

Inter have often failed to kill off games in which they have  dominated, and that was again the case on Monday when they had opportunities to extend their advantage.

That allowed Leverkusen to stay in the quarterfinal despite having only two shots on target.

“We could have gone through in a more relaxed manner because, despite the fact that we never really had to dig in, the result was close,” Conte said.

“It’s difficult to be annoyed. I can only compliment the lads on their performance. As is the case after every game, we’ll analyze every situation and see where we can improve.”