Carlos Sainz plays safe at Dakar Rally

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Race leader Carlos Sainz of Spain played it safe on the marathon 12th stage of the Dakar Rally, which took the drivers through to San Juan in Argentina.

He finished 8th, and lost about 16 minutes of his lead, but still has a cushion of 44 minutes, with just two days left.

This was the longest stage of this years rally, a 523 special stage through sand, fast tracks and bumpy rocky roads. Nasser Al Attiyah gave Toyota their second consecutive stage win, after finishing 2 minutes ahead of Stephane Peterhansel following a duel throughout the stage.

Just two minutes separated them, but both know that unless something goes very wrong for Carlos Sainz, they are essentially fighting for podium places. At the moment Peterhansel is 2nd, 20 minutes ahead of Al Attiyah.

Carlos Sainz seems to have decided to take no chances with his race lead. He started out over an hour ahead of Peterhansel, and drove a conservative stage to finish 8th. He gave up 16 minutes of his lead, but is still in a very comfortable position.

Giniel de Villiers has said he’ll try to drive the last two days as cleanly as possible. His third on the stage cements his 5th position overall. Today is a long stage to Corboda, where the race finishes on Saturday.