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.

 

 


Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

Updated 19 January 2020

Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

  • Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions

JEDDAH: Renowned Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras scored all his side’s goals as Amaala hammered out an emphatic 7-3 victory over host team AlUla to win the Kingdom’s first-ever desert polo tournament on Saturday at AlUla UNESCO heritage site.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, presented the trophy to Amaala after the final.

The event forms part of Winter at Tantora festival, featuring international polo players, who had the experience of playing on compacted desert sand instead of grass amid the stunning surroundings at AlUla.

The Royal Commission of AlUla organized the three-day tournament in cooperation with the newly formed Saudi Polo Federation.

In winning the tournament, Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions.

Players from all over the world took part, including team members from the world famous La Dolfina polo outfit from Argentina, including Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Pablo Mac Donough.

In the match for third place, Al Nahla Bentley defeated Team Richard Mille 4-2 with Sheikha Alya Maktoum scoring a hat trick of goals.

Figueras said: “It’s an amazing place with an amazing history, an amazing heritage and an amazing first tournament for the Saudi Polo Federation. I’m very honored to be here and I’m delighted that we were able to win.

“This country is going through a transformation and there are amazing years to come.”

Mac Donough added: “For us it was a completely new place; polo-wise Saudi Arabia wasn’t something we were doing before. Having the chance to come to such an amazing country and having the chance to play a tournament and promote the sport, all this makes us feel very proud and we hope we can continue it.”

Saudi Polo Federation chairman, Amr F. Zedan, who played for Team Richard Mille during the tournament, said: “I see this event as a launching pad for the future. We have big plans for polo in Saudi Arabia that include the establishment of development programs and the construction of facilities to assist in building a polo infrastructure in The Kingdom.”

Amr Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla, said: “Our tourism strategy for AlUla has been built around certain anchors — heritage, culture, nature and arts. Equestrianism has always been a key industry for us, and the surroundings here make AlUla one of the best locations to ride horses.”