Dakar Rally bike leader 'Nacho' retires, Peterhansel set for car title

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X-Raid Mini JCW Team's Stephane Peterhansel and Co-Driver Edouard Boulanger in action during stage 10. (Reuters)
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Kamaz' Russian driver Andrey Nonvirgin, co-driver Andrey Mokeev and Igor Lenonov compete during the Stage 10 of the Dakar Rally 2021 between Neom and Alula in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
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Overdrive Toyota's Yazeed Al Rajhi and Co-Driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz in action during stage 10. (Reuters)
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Competitors ride during the Stage 10 of the Dakar Rally 2021 between Neom and Alula in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
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Toyota's driver Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar (right) and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel of France compete during the Stage 10 of the Dakar Rally 2021 between Neom and Alula in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
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Updated 13 January 2021

Dakar Rally bike leader 'Nacho' retires, Peterhansel set for car title

  • Drivers and riders raced through spectacular scenery from NEOM to AlUla
  • The 26-year-old Honda rider, nicknamed 'Nacho,' fell 252km into the 10th stage

ALULA, Saudi Arabia: The Dakar Rally motorbike leader Jose Ignacio Cornejo was forced to retire after a fall on Wednesday with Friday’s finish line agonizingly close as Stephane Peterhansel appeared to have all but wrapped up the car title.
The veteran Mini driver enjoys a 17-minute cushion over Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah and a record-extending 14th Dakar crown now looks his to lose.
“Being in the lead is the best position, but it’s also where you’ve got the most to lose,” said the 55-year-old Frenchman who was first crowned champion in 1991 before luckless Cornejo was even born.

The 26-year-old Honda rider, nicknamed “Nacho,” fell 252km into the 10th stage in Saudi Arabia and although he remounted and completed the stage he agreed with the rally’s medical department to retire for fear of having suffered concussion.
The Dakar was living up to its fearsome reputation for the second time in 24 hours as the Chilean rider was airlifted to hospital where he joined Toby Price, the Australian two-time champion who requires collarbone surgery after suffering a dreadful fall on Tuesday’s ninth stage.
Dazed after landing on his head Price received immediate assistance from defending champion Ricky Brabec, who won Wednesday’s stage to sit just 50 seconds adrift of his Honda teammate, Argentine Kevin Benavides ahead of Thursday’s penultimate and decisive 11th stage.
Price posted a photo of himself from his hospital bed giving a thumbs up on Twitter alongside an update on his medical condition.
“Finally broken my 30th bone! I don’t remember much but I’ve got a pretty sore collarbone, shoulder and hand and will need surgery for that...”
He expressed disappointment at not riding into Jeddah, and thanked Brabec and British rider Sam Sunderland for coming to his rescue.
“Thank you @Sundersam and @rickyB357 for stopping to help me, I was off with the fairies that day but I heard you took good care of me!“
Thursday’s 11th stage features a 464 kilometer timed special, the longest of the rally, from Al Ula to Yanbu.
Peterhansel is approaching the stage with plenty of caution as to what the rest of the Dakar may have in store for him.
He came in third on Wednesday, finishing in runner-up Al-Attiyah’s wing mirrors with the day’s honors going to Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rahji.
“Being in the lead is the best position, but it’s also where you’ve got the most to lose,” said Mini driver Peterhansel.
“The pressure never goes away, from the moment you wake up until you go to bed.
“When you do well in a stage, you know it would be a real pity to see all that effort go down the drain!“
For Al-Attiyah, “tomorrow will decide the Dakar.”
“It’s going to be a tricky stage, but we’ll do our best. There’s no strategy, we’ll just keep driving fast,” said the three-time winner.


Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season

Updated 46 min 24 sec ago

Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season

  • Chelsea has lost five of its last eight Premier League games and dropped to ninth place

LONDON: Frank Lampard was fired by Chelsea on Monday halfway through his second season in charge of the London club after being unable to replicate his success as the club’s record scorer in his first Premier League managerial job.
Chelsea has lost five of its last eight Premier League games and dropped to ninth place, despite Lampard benefiting from nearly $300 million spent on new players for this season.
Chelsea said the performances had not shown “any clear path to sustained improvement” — making a change of managers necessary.
“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,” owner Roman Abramovich said. “He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, the Board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future. He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.”
As the pressure has grown, the cracks were showing ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup win over Luton, when Lampard hit out at perceived negative coverage of the club.
But his own shortcomings of a fledging coaching career were being exposed and sentimentality counted for little despite being instrumental to the trophy-laden revival of the club as a player since the takeover by Abramovich in 2003.
Chelsea brought back its midfield great as coach in 2019 despite him having only a single season’s experience in management in the second division with Derby.
He achieved Champions League qualification in his first season by securing a fourth-place finish in the Premier League. The rush to dismiss Lampard is indicative of the impatience shown by Abramovich, particularly when the team is slipping away from the Champions League spots.
After securing one of the biggest jobs in English management so early in his coaching career, Lampard leaves Stamford Bridge without any success having lost the 2020 FA Cup final to Arsenal.
Lampard is a Chelsea great after scoring 211 goals from central midfield from 2001-14, during which he won every major honor at the club including three Premier League titles and the Champions League. He was associated with some of the best moments in the club’s history and admired for his work ethic and making the most of his talent.