McRae penalised for speeding

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The Independent Online

Colin McRae survived the longest stage yet of the Dakar Rally yesterday - but then dropped two places when he was penalised for speeding.

The Scot is more used to spreading a 400-kilometre world rally over three days but met an entirely different experience yesterday with a 337km (209-mile) dash across Morocco in stage five of the event.

The mammoth stage did not prove too daunting for the 1995 world rally champion, who recorded the sixth-fastest time to head into today's sixth stage comfortably in the top 10.

McRae, driving a Nissan, was just over 14 minutes slower than pace-setter Stephane Peterhansel to lie 16min 12sec off the lead on his Dakar Rally debut. However, he was then given a seven and a half minute penalty for speeding in Er Rachidia, relegating him to eighth in the standings.

Peterhansel, in a Mitsubishi, dropped to second place on the stage after being given a five-minute penalty for being pushed by a team-mate. However, the Frenchman retained his overall lead and Masuoka's fine display lifted him into second spot overall, more than nine minutes ahead of Gregoire de Mevius in third.

In the bike class there was no change to the overall top three, with Isidre Esteve Pujol taking the stage win to extend his overall lead to 36sec after almost five hours of competition. Pujol's fellow KTM rider Fabrizio Meoni is still second, while Cyril Despres remains third overall.

Patsy Quick, riding a KTM, was 144th in yesterday's stage to stand 137th overall as she attempts to become the first British woman to complete the event.

The leading Briton on two wheels is Mike Extance, whose fine 48th in the stage leaves him 47th overall on his Honda. In the truck category Vladimir Tchaguine won stage five in a Kamaz to take the overall lead from Gerard de Rooy, who was second yesterday in his DAF.

Today's sixth stage covers 351km (218 miles) between Ouarzazate and Tan-Tan.