Spanish driver Carlos Sainz has closed the gap on Volkswagen teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah after winning Tuesday's stage of the Dakar Rally.
Al-Attiyah, last year's runner-up behind Sainz, took the lead of the event on Monday after his Spanish teammate hit trouble in the dunes.
The former World Rally Champion, however, charged back on today's ninth stage – a 235km special in Copiapo, Chile – to take his fifth win of the event this year, and the 22nd on his career, and reduce the gap to Al-Attiyah by over two minutes.
"I'm happy with my day, especially since dunes, desert and off-track terrain aren't my favorite type," said Sainz. "We drove a good special. After 100km we caught up with, then overtook, Nasser. He had a puncture, but afterward he clawed back a bit of time on us. Tomorrow, it will be me opening the way and the roles will be reversed."
Sainz is still in second place in the standings, three minutes and 18 seconds behind the Qatari driver, second today ahead of the third Volkswagen of 2009 winner Giniel de Villiers.
"We had a puncture and we lost time, but afterward we came back again and caught Carlos, finishing in front of him," Al-Attiyah said. "I'm quite happy to finish today without any problems.
"The car is working very well. Tomorrow it will be very interesting because we start in second position. As the first car, you always lose time. I am sure tomorrow will be better for us and we will try our best. We'll follow Carlos, just follow..."
Stephane Peterhansel, driving X-Raid's BMW, finished in fourth ahead of another VW, that of American Mark Miller, losing over 11 and over 14 minutes to Sainz, respectively, in the standings.
Stage nine results:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen 2h14m39s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen + 01m56s
3. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen + 09m02s
4. Stephane Peterhansel BMW + 11m14s
5. Mark Miller Volkswagen + 14m52s
6. Krzysztof Holowczyc BMW + 17m05s
7. Alfie Cox Nissan + 28m07s
8. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi + 29m32s
9. Christian Lavieille Nissan + 29m55s
10. Ricardo Leal dos Santos BMW + 36m55s
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen 30h56m25s
2. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen + 03m18s
3. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen + 55m51s
4. Stephane Peterhansel BMW + 1h42m48s
5. Mark Miller Volkswagen + 2h45m19s
6. Krzysztof Holowczyc BMW + 3h54m08s
7. Ricardo Leal dos Santos BMW + 5h26m28s
8. Christian Lavieille Nissan + 5h52m54s
9. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi + 6h01m24s
9. Matthias Kahle SMG + 7h43m06s