Spain’s two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz extended his overall lead in the car section of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday when he won the 10th stage, a 238 kilometres special from La Serena.


Earlier his compatriot Marc Coma had won his second successive motorcycling stage.

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Sainz extended his overnight lead to over 10 minutes as his second-placed Volkswagen team-mate Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah could finish only fourth in the stage, 1min 40sec in arrears.

Sainz, who once had a trial with Real Madrid as a goalkeeper, was satisfied with his day’s work.

“Good. No problems,” enthused Sainz.

“80 kilometres after the start we caught up with Nasser. What I did was to first to get close to Nasser and then I stayed at around 1:40. After that from the 80km mark we were driving in the dust.”

Al-Attiyah for his part was relieved to have finished the stage.

“It was very dangerous at that speed,” said the 39-year-old, who finished fourth in the skeet shooting event at the 2004 Olympics.

“For me it was not a good feeling and I am really happy to have finished this stage without any problems.

“For me today it was very stressful because I opened the road (started first on the stage having won on Monday).

“Carlos caught up with us with around 50km to go but its okay I am happy with today (Tuesday). It’s normal when you start the stage in first that you lose a lot of time. Tomorrow (Wednesday) there will be more off-road and dunes which will be good for me”

French driver Stephane Peterhansel, who has recovered well since he lost over two hours on one stage and any chance of winning outright, was second on the stage 28sec behind while Volkswagen driver Mark Miller of the United States remained in third overall after finishing third 1min 2sec in arrears.

Coma, who is out of contention for the overall title having been penalised six hours over the weekend, beat Frenchman David Fretigne by 2min 6sec.

For Coma it was mission accomplished – as least for Tuesday that is.

“I went looking for victory,” confessed Coma, who still protests his innocence over the penalty for illegal changing a tyre.

“I started first and opened the road for the whole stage. It’s hard. In fact it’s the hardest thing to do. And trying to claw back some time is hard too.

“But we did, so I’m happy, even proud – all thanks to the team.”

Another Frenchman, Cyril Despres, who was sixth on the stage over six minutes in arrears, remains the clear overall leader.

Despres admitted that he had ridden conservatively with one eye on his overall lead.

“We could easily have lost the overall lead, so I protected my lead,” he said.

“That said I wasn’t just taking it easy either. For me there was no need to go on the attack.”

The battle for the remaining podium places looks set to be intense in the remaining four stages ahead of the finish in Buenos Aires.

Chilean Francisco Lopez – winner of two stages – gained over two minutes on overall second-placed Pal Ullevalseter of Norway, who has a slender lead of under two minutes over him.

Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues, who was third in the stage, is less than a minute behind Lopez in the overall standings.