Monday, January 20, 2014, 09:23
Spaniard wins Dakar rally in contrived finish
By Associated Press in Valparaiso, Chile

Spaniard wins Dakar rally in contrived finish

Nani Roma celebrates winning the sixth South American edition of the Dakar Rally. (Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters)

Nani Roma won the Dakar Rally on Saturday after an anticlimactic 13th and final stage during which team orders guaranteed the Spaniard would finish first.

Stephane Peterhansel, the Dakar's record 11-time winner and defending champion, began the race's shortest stage of 157 km with a 26-second lead, but the Frenchman slowed down and even stopped to let teammate Roma roll first to Valparaiso.

The move ensured Roma, Peterhansel and third-place teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar followed controversial team orders from late Wednesday to freeze their positions to guarantee a podium sweep.

Their Minis deliberately reached the finish line together and the sweep was achieved.

"It's a dream come true,"' said Roma, who dedicated the win to former co-driver Henri Magne, who died in a race in 2006.

Victory for Roma and co-driver Michel Perin also meant they stayed unbeaten for a fifth straight rally.

"We had lots of fun driving but I'm frustrated with the final result," Peterhansel said, "Nani is my friend, and I'm pleased to see him happy because it has been his dream for 10 years, since he shifted from a motorcycle to a car."

Another Spaniard, Marc Coma, won the motorcycle race a fourth time, finishing the rally which began in Argentina two weeks ago in one hour, 53 minutes ahead of countryman and KTM teammate Jordi Viladoms. Olivier Pain of France was third, and two-time defending champ Cyril Despres fourth.

"I remember being unable to start last year's race, and yet I'm here now, I've won," Coma said.

"I am going to savor it. I don't know if I will ever win it again."

Coma added to victories in 2006, 2009 and 2011.