Peterhansel overall leader with two days left

Updated: January 14, 2005, 6:03 PM ET
Reuters

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.

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