Qatar’s Al-Attiyah wins penultimate Dakar stage but deflated Peterhansel keeps lead

X-Raid Mini JCW Team’s Stephane Peterhansel and Co-Driver Edouard Boulanger in action during stage 11 of the Dakar Rally. (Reuters)
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X-Raid Mini JCW Team’s Stephane Peterhansel and Co-Driver Edouard Boulanger in action during stage 11 of the Dakar Rally. (Reuters)
Mini's driver Stephane Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger of France change a tyre as hey compete during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Alula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
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Mini's driver Stephane Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger of France change a tyre as hey compete during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Alula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
Mini's Spanish drivers Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz compete during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Alula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
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Mini's Spanish drivers Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz compete during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Alula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
British biker Sam Sunderland (R) powers his Ktm's in front U's biker Skyler Howes during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Alula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
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British biker Sam Sunderland (R) powers his Ktm's in front U's biker Skyler Howes during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Alula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
Ktm's British biker Sam Sunderland competes during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Alula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
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Ktm's British biker Sam Sunderland competes during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Alula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Qatar’s Al-Attiyah wins penultimate Dakar stage but deflated Peterhansel keeps lead

X-Raid Mini JCW Team’s Stephane Peterhansel and Co-Driver Edouard Boulanger in action during stage 11 of the Dakar Rally. (Reuters)
  • Peterhansel will start the final stage, a 225-kilometer run across chains of dunes to Jeddah, leading by a quarter of an hour

YANBU, Saudi Arabia: Nasser Al-Attiyah won his fifth stage on the Dakar Rally on Thursday when he finished nearly two minutes ahead of leader Stephane Peterhansel but still trails the Frenchman with one day to go.
Peterhansel will start the final stage, a 225-kilometer run across chains of dunes to Jeddah, leading by a quarter of an hour as he seeks to add to his record 13 victories in the race.


“We lost just a few minutes, it’s nothing,” said Peterhansel at the finish. “There’s only one day to go... It’s time to cross fingers and hope that we will be in first place at the end.”
The longest stage of the race, a 464-kilometer drive across sand dunes from AlUla to Yanbu brought a day of changing fortunes.
Peterhansel led with an advantage of more than three minutes over Al-Attiyah after 306 kilometers but suffered two punctures.
Khalid Al-Qassimi took the lead after 362 kilometers at which point Al-Attiyah had closed to within seven seconds of Peterhansel.
Peterhansel regained the lead and was 38 seconds ahead of the chasing Al-Attiyah 30 kilometers from the finish but could not hold the lead.
“Today it was really complicated, like the organizers said beforehand, like we expected it to be, because the navigation was not easy, but we got two punctures, especially the last one that was in the dunes,” the Frenchman said.
“They were really strange dunes,” he added. “In the middle of the dunes there were some rocks just after the crest of the dunes, so it was not easy to anticipate or to see. The last one was a very big impact and we had another puncture. We were a little bit afraid that also some part of the frame was broken, but at the end it was OK.”
Al-Attiyah, driving a Toyota, eventually crossed the line in 4hr 34min 24sec, 1min 56sec ahead of Peterhansel in his Mini.
“It really wasn’t easy,” said the Qatari, who also won the prologue.
“I am really happy to be here on day 11 without any technical problems with the car,” he added. “We have really had a lot of punctures. I’ve had more than 16 tires punctured. I am sure that 16 tires times one minute and a half each change is a lot.”
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” he said.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz in another Mini was a further 30 seconds back in third. Saudi Yazeed Al-Rajhi was fourth in a Toyota.
Briton Sam Sunderland, 2017 Dakar champion, won the motorbike category, the KTM rider timing 4hr 35min 21 sec for the stage, maintaining a comfortable 2:40 lead over the Husqvarna ridden by Pablo Quintanilla.
“I knew that today was one of my last chances to try to win and I gave my all, all day,” said Sunderland.
“We still have one day to go and many things can happen on one stage.”
Argentina’s Kevin Benavides increased his lead in the overall standings over American Honda teammate and defending champion Ricky Brabec to 7:13, with Sunderland currently second, at 4:12.
“We did a really good job with Ricky,” said Benavides, who broke his nose as he shattered his helmet jumping off a dune on stage five.
“It was a really hard day, very long with plenty of navigation, a lot of sand and dunes.”
Benavides added: “With Ricky we pushed together on the dunes... Tomorrow we will push like every day, no other strategy than that.
“There are no team orders and yes, the race is still open.”
There was drama on the stage as Spain’s Joan Barreda, a two-stage winner also on a Honda, exited the race after missing a refueling stop and subsequently running out of petrol.

 


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.