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Sunday, January 18
Updated: February 5, 12:09 PM ET
Peterhansel completes Dakar double

DAKAR -- Stephane Peterhansel celebrated a long-awaited double triumph at the Dakar Rally on Sunday when he became the second person to win both the motorbike and car categories in the gruelling desert race.

The French Mitsubishi driver finished the 17th and final stage in 19th place, 4.23 minutes behind winner Colin McRae of Britain, who crossed the line in his Nissan in 14.42 minutes.

But Peterhansel, a six-time winner in the motorbike section, had virtually sealed victory on Saturday after a steady drive on the penultimate stage and Sunday's straightforward 27-km special stage proved to be a formality.

The 38-year-old Frenchman followed in the footsteps of his compatriot Hubert Auriol, the first person to win the Dakar Rally on both two and four wheels.

"On the liaison section this morning, I couldn't help but think about last year," said a delighted Peterhansel, who had led for most of the 2003 race before breaking down and hitting a rock near the end of the penultimate stage.

"It has been a long year to wait for this victory. It's been extremely tough, but I couldn't be happier.

"I had to wait four years for my first win with the bike. For the first win with the car, it took me six. This is a completely different feeling."

Peterhansel's closest challenger, teammate Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan, finished second overall but was almost 50 minutes behind the Frenchman.

Jean-Louis Schlesser, also of France, was third in his Schles-Ford while former world rally champion McRae, in his debut Dakar, finished well down the final standings in 20th.

In the motorbike section, Spaniard Joan Roma extended his overnight lead of five minutes to clinch his first Dakar title.

Roma finished in 55 hours, 56 minutes and 28 seconds with Frenchman Richard Sainct, last year's winner, more than 12 minutes behind in second place while Frenchman Cyril Despres, who won Sunday's final stage, finished third.

"The race was very hard and difficult and that's why it was so good to win it," Roma was quoted as saying by sports daily Marca. "Until you cross the line, you are never completely sure of the victory.

Roma, who has been plagued by bad luck in his previous attempts to win the event, said he had always held out hope of claiming a victory.

"When so many things go wrong you begin to have your doubts, but ever since 1996 I thought I would win it and I always had faith in myself."

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Peterhansel close to Dakar glory


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