Al-Attiyah wins stage, cuts 3min off Peterhansel’s lead

Al-Attiyah wins stage, cuts 3min off Peterhansel’s lead
Mini’s Spanish driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz during stage 8 of the Dakar Rally 2021 between Sakaka and NEOM on Monday. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 12 January 2021

Al-Attiyah wins stage, cuts 3min off Peterhansel’s lead

Al-Attiyah wins stage, cuts 3min off Peterhansel’s lead
  • The Qatari has won a stage for 14 consecutive Dakars and reached 40 in his career

JEDDAH: Nasser Al-Attiyah’s caution  paid off on Monday when he gained on Dakar Rally leader Stephane Peterhansel by three minutes.

Al-Attiyah cracked the whip on the eighth stage from Sakaka to NEOM in northern Saudi Arabia, a day after a marathon stage. The Qatari won it, his fifth stage win of this Dakar. 

Defending champion Carlos Sainz was second, and Peterhansel third after losing his way twice at the end of the 375-km (233-mile) special.

“It’s really complicated to do a full Dakar without a mistake,” Peterhansel said. “For the moment, it’s just a small one. I hope that it will be the only one until the end.”

Al-Attiyah has won a stage for 14 consecutive Dakars and reached 40 in his career, third in the race history only to Peterhansel (47) and Ari Vatanen (50).

Drama fell upon local hope Razeed Al-Rajhi, the Sunday stage winner who lost an hour to a mechanical problem, and former world rally champion Sebastien Loeb, who dropped out after two punctures in the first 80 kilometers. He had no more spares.

Overall, Peterhansel’s lead over Al-Attiyah was cut to 4 minutes, 50 seconds. Sainz was 39 minutes back in third and none of the other racers were within 1 1/2 hours of the lead.

In the motorbike race, Jose Ignacio Cornejo of Chile won the stage from Toby Price of Australia by a minute, and that’s how they stood overall, too.

Sam Sunderland, fourth on the stage, was third overall, six minutes behind. The top three had a good break on the rest, including Kevin Benavides, Joan Barreda, and defending champion Ricky Brabec, 18 minutes back.

Price and Barreda traded the lead throughout the stage, but Ignacio Cornejo prevailed right at the end. That’s where Xavier de Soultrait, who started the day fourth overall, suffered a nasty fall and had to be airlifted to a hospital.

“With four days to go the plan is the same as it is now: Try to ride as fast as we can, don’t get lost, don’t crash and take care of the bike,” Ignacio Cornejo said.

The rally ends on Friday.


DeChambeau: Power gives him advantage for Saudi International

DeChambeau: Power gives him advantage for Saudi International
Updated 19 January 2021

DeChambeau: Power gives him advantage for Saudi International

DeChambeau: Power gives him advantage for Saudi International
  • Physically transformed 2020 US Open champion relishing head-to-head with World No. 1 Dustin Johnson

JEDDAH: Big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau believes the length of Royal Greens Golf & Country Club’s tee-to-green puts him in prime position to pip world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and claim victory at next month’s Saudi International.

The 2020 US Open champion, famed worldwide for his colossal tee shots, the longest in Tour history, is King Abdullah Economic City-bound for his second crack at taking the Saudi crown that alluded him in 2019.

He was pipped to the title by Johnson, who returns alongside the biggest names in golf for the third annual hosting of the European Tour event next month.

However, 27-year-old DeChambeau heads to the Kingdom a different golfer this year, having not only transformed his physique and game to out-drive all other professional players, but as a Major champion, after clinching the US Open back in September.

He believes these two factors could prove critical in his quest for first place in two weeks’ time.

He said: “I feel like I have an even better advantage on the golf course because it is a bit of a bomber’s paradise, and I love that opportunity.

“When I played there, I finished sixth. I have a lot of great memories about the golf course and the character of the holes and being on the Red Sea, it was pretty unique and something that I want to experience again.

“I will tell you, though, that hitting it far there will be an advantage with some of the par 5s and I think it will fit me well, a lot better than the other golf courses.”

Much of the build-up around November’s delayed hosting of the Masters was focused on DeChambeau and how the Augusta course suited his big-hitting style of play.

However, it was to be his 2018 Ryder Cup teammate Johnson who eventually came out on top, further cementing his position as the world’s best. The fact that he will be teeing off against “DJ” next month is something that only adds to the excitement for DeChambeau, as he continues on his own mission to one day achieve top spot in World Golf rankings.

“Having a world No. 1 playing puts a little fire in my belly,” said DeChambeau. “I want to go over there and play and beat him. I was fortunate enough to clip him by one or two in Kapalua and if I keep doing that, if I keep beating him in every event, eventually the tables will turn.”

In his quest to be the world’s best, DeChambeau has famously reworked his entire game — and physique. In 2020 alone he gained 40 pounds to build his strength, and as a result extended his length off the tee by anywhere from 30 to 70 yards.

Although the tournament will be held without fans due to coronavirus disease restrictions, it will be shown live on KSA Sports, and DeChambeau is gearing up to show the Kingdom exactly what he has been working towards.