DAKAR, Senegal -- Finland's Ari Vatanen eased to
victory in stage 14 of the Dakar rally on Friday but champion
Stephane Peterhansel is still on course to retain his overall
title with two days left.
Vatanen's Nissan Pickup crossed the line nine minutes and 16
seconds ahead of France's Bruno Saby after the 630-km run from
Kayes in Mali to Tambacounda in Senegal.
Frenchman Peterhansel rolled in eighth, 20:55 adrift of the
winner but he still leads the overall standings by 26:41 from
compatriot and fellow Mitsubishi driver Luc Alphand.
Josep Maria Servia, who hit a tree on stage 12, decided to
quit the rally after badly damaging his Schlesser-Ford buggy
when he rolled it on Thursday. The pull-out was another blow for
the team after boss Jean-Louis Schlesser also withdrew.
On two wheels, Brazil's Jean De Azevedo on a KTM edged out
David Fretigne's Yamaha by just 10 seconds to take the stage.
KTM's French rider Cyril Despres has a 12:16 lead in the
overall race, which has been marred by the deaths of former
double champion Fabrizio Meoni and Jose Manuel Perez earlier in
the week after crashes.
The penultimate stage takes competitors from Tambacounda
into Dakar with a short 68 km stage through the Senegalese
capital on the final day.