Stephane Peterhansel retains his Dakar Rally title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Stephane Peterhansel won his second successive Dakar Rally in Senegal on Sunday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:47 IST
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Stephane Peterhansel won his second successive Dakar Rally in Senegal on Sunday. The Frenchman, who had won the motorcycle title six times before his move to four wheels, finished in 11th place behind stage 16 winner Bruno Saby, but he sat more than 27 minutes ahead of nearest rival Luc Alphand in the final overall standings. Fastest biker The Rally reached its conclusion on Sunday with a 16th and final stage along the Dakar coastline in Senegal. Stephane Peterhansel brought a commanding lead into the final stage and last year's winner was more or less assured of another title with the day's racing a simple procession. He set off alongside fellow Mitsubishi driver Luc Alphand, who sat in second place in the overall standings. Peterhansel simply had to complete the course in order to take the title and the Frenchman crossed the finishing line in a time of 22 minutes and nine seconds for 11th place on the stage. Bruno Saby won the stage and finished in fifth place overall. Kleinschmidt third in overall Jutta Kleinschmidt, the only female driver to have ever won the Dakar Rally, finished the day in third place to claim third in the overall standings behind the impressive Alphand. Peterhansel finished the rally in a combined time of 52 hours, 31 minutes and 39 seconds to add a second car title to the six trophies he won on two wheels. The remaining motorcycle riders paid a final tribute to Fabrizio Meoni before they started stage 16. The Italian suffered a serious crash on stage 11 and died one day after Spanish rider Jose-Manuel Perez had passed away in hospital following his crash on stage seven. Fastest biker Kellon Walch of the USA took the stage victory in a time of 17 minutes and 17 seconds Walch was the fastest motorcycle rider on the stage, but Cyril Despres won the overall title and dedicated his award to his KTM team mate Fabrizio Meoni, who died last week while competing in the event. Spaniard Isidre Esteve Pujol finished the day in second place ahead of Eric Verhoef of the Netherlands in third. Like Peterhansel, Cyril Despres carried a healthy lead into the final day of the rally and the Frenchman didn't take any chances. Despres finished the stage in 16th place, but won the overall title by more than nine minutes from nearest rival Marc Coma of Spain and dedicated his victory to the unfortunate Meoni. (AP)

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