Rallying: Peterhansel secures Dakar hat-trick

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The Independent Online

Stéphane Peterhansel sealed his third Dakar Rally triumph following yesterday's 15th and final stage in the Senegalese capital.

With the overall victory all but confirmed after Saturday's final major stage, the Mitsubishi driver cruised home in 51st place in yesterday's 16-kilometre special stage to take the title by 7min 23sec from his compatriot and team-mate Luc Alphand.

The win makes it a hat-trick of successes for the Frenchman following previous triumphs in 2004 and 2005. Peterhansel said: "It wasn't the easiest of all my victories. Sometimes I won with more than 30 minutes' lead, this time it was a very close call until the end.

"We had to keep our heads clear. The struggle with Luc was tricky. Actually it was pretty stressful," he added.

Overall, Jean-Louis Schlesser made it a clean sweep for the French, claiming a distant third place more than one and a half hours behind Peterhansel.

Volkswagen's Giniel de Villiers took the honours for the stage, the South African racing home in a time of 7min 42sec. His team-mate Carlos Sainz narrowly failed to make it four successive stage wins after finishing second, two seconds behind De Villiers, while the American Robby Gordon took third for Hummer.

In the motorcycle section, the Latvian Janis Vinters won the day with a time of 8:42, 7sec ahead of the Norwegian Pal Anders Ullevalseter, with Portugal's Helder Rodrigues third.

But overall, KTM's Cyril Depres secured his second Dakar Rally win, 34:19 ahead of fellow Frenchman David Casteu, with Chris Blais, of the United States, third.