2009 Dakar Rally, Argentina-Chile
Stage 6: San Rafael to Mendoza
NASCAR Sprint Cup star Robby Gordon, above, held his ground in the car standings Thursday with another top-10 class finish, but it was Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah who made the most news. The overall leader in the car class appeared to have his third stage win of this rally, but the he was later disqualified from the event because he missed more than three hidden check points on the route.
The day's special was shortened by more than a half because of the difficult terrain on the route through the Andes foothills and a flooded river ford. Al-Attiyah covered the 111-mile special in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 26 seconds, but the BMW driver admitted he missed a check point after his engine overheated in the sand dunes.
After the stewards' review, Volkswagen driver Giniel De Villiers of South Africa was awarded his second consecutive stage victory and American Mark Miller (Volkswagen) was scored second, followed by Spain's Carlos Sainz (Volkswagen) and defending Dakar champion Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi). Gordon wound up eighth after getting lost early in the stage and finds himself sixth in the overall standings, 1 hour, 11 minutes, 47 seconds back of new overall leader de Villiers. Miller moved up to third in the overall race.
In bikes, Marc Coma widened his lead over American Jonah Street to 40 minutes, 29 seconds. France's Cyril Depres won his first stage of this rally, two minutes ahead of Coma. It was Depres' 17th career Dakar Rally stage victory. Street finished 11th.
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-- Michele Vincze
Photo: The Associated Press