McRae defies setbacks to win Dakar stage

Colin McRae scored his first–ever stage victory on the Dakar Rally yesterday to finally banish memories of his sand dune difficulties.

The Scot is out of contention for a top placing after twice being stranded in the African desert by transmission problems on his Nissan but he put that disappointment behind him.

He was fastest on stage 13, ahead of Giniel de Villiers, with Ari Vatanen third.

Stephane Peterhansel leads overall, with Hiroshi Masuoka second and Jean Louis Schlesser third. McRae is 20th but would rather concentrate on simply finishing the event.

He said: "It's my first stage with a good clean run. We had some vibration problems so we had to make sure the car was okay. Tomorrow's a marathon stage so we have to take good care of the car. There still is a hell of a long way to Dakar.

"I felt good overtaking everyone. You obviously know you're doing well. It's nice to be alongside Andrew Cowan (the last British driver to win a stage).

"I want to get to Dakar but we have to judge our own pace. The others will be calculating a lot so I think we can try to win another one."

On two wheels, David Fretigne won his first African stage after two victories in Europe, pipping Richard Sainct to the top of the standings.

Joan Roma was third, but retains the lead, with Sainct second and Cyril Despres third.

DAKAR RALLY 13th stage (733km, from Bamako, Mali, to Ayoun el Atrous, Mauritania) Special 478km stage, leading results: Cars: 1 C McRae (GB) Nissan 5hr 52min 58sec; 2 G De Villiers (SA) Nissan +7min 40sec; 3 A Vatanen (Fin) Nissan +8:47; 4 J M Servia (Sp) Schlesser-Ford +16:39, 5 J Kleinschmidt (Ger) Volkswagen +23:11; 6 G De Mevius (Bel) BMW +23:58; 7 H Masuoka (Japan) Mitsubishi +24:21; 8 S Peterhansel (Fr) Mitsubishi +26:35; 9 L Alphand (Fr) BMW 29:36; 10 L Komornicki (Pol) Mitsubishi 30:37. Leading overall standings: 1 Peterhansel 36hr 36min 26sec; 2 Masuoka +1hr 02min 29sec; 3 J-L Schlesser (Fr) Schlesser-Ford +2:29:59; 4 Alphand +3:56:59; 5 De Mevius +4:12:53; 6 A Mayer (Ger) Mitsubishi +5:04:24; 7 B Saby (Fr) Volkswagen +5:44:00; 8 T Magnaldi (Fr) Honda +7:03:23; 9 K Kolberg (Br) Mitsubishi 7:03:49 10 D Housieaux (Fr) Mitsubishi +7:38:44.