Dakar: Spain's Carlos Sainz won the 12th stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday as the race crossed the southern Mauritanian desert and entered Mali for the first time. The Volkswagen driver finished the 257 km journey in two hours, 58 minutes and 56 seconds to lie in ninth place overall. Another VW driver, Carlos Sousa of Portugal was second, 3:52 behind. Defending champion, Mitsubishi driver Luc Alphand of France finished third. Stephane Peterhansel of France still leads overall in his Mitsubishi, 6:29 ahead of Alphand. Sainz has climbed a single place in the overall standings to ninth, still more than seven and a half minutes behind Peterhansel, with three stages remaining. The rally ends in the Senegalese capital Dakar on January 21.