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The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"This year's rally will be remembered for being airlifted out of Niger"
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Sunday, 23 January, 2000, 17:28 GMT
Frenchmen win Dakar rally

Dakar winners This is the second victory for Schlesser's team

France's Jean-Louis Schlesser and Andorran teammate Henri Magne have claimed victory in the auto class of the Paris-Dakar-Cairo rally.

Thousands of cheering spectators gathered on the Giza Plateau at Egypt's 4,500 year-old Giza pyramids to welcome the winners.

They told the crowds they were "very happy to be here" after a "difficult race".

The two had dominated the 17-stage, 11,000 km (6,900 mile) journey in their blue buggy-like vehicle with a Renault engine, and attributed their success to having made "no mistakes".

Schlesser and Magne Schlesser and Magne won only one stage of the race

"At the beginning we had to work very hard to maintain the pressure with the other competitors who were going very, very fast," Schlesser said.

Earlier on Sunday, Frenchman Richard Sainct came first in the motorcycles section of the rally on a BMW, roughly 30 minutes ahead of second-placed Oscar Gallardo of Spain.

Showering his teammates with champagne, Sainct said: "It's a beautiful victory for me and my team."

"We let the others knock each other out, and then we went wisely," he said.

In the auto section Frenchmen Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret finished second, and another French pair, Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard came third.

The results are expected to be officially confirmed later on Sunday.

Gruelling race

The race across Africa, which started on 6 January, is one of the most gruelling in the sporting calendar.

This year contestants had to contend with a mass airlift from Niger to Libya after organisers were warned of a terrorist threat to drivers.

Richard Sainct Winning biker: Richard Sainct

More than 3,000 fans arrived in Egypt to see the final stages and share the glory of the winners.

Only 96 cars out of 138, and 110 motorcycles survived for the last stage - a race from Wadi Rayyan, 150km (95 miles) south-west of Cairo to the pyramids.

Both winning teams will retain the titles they won in last year's rally.

Truck battle

The competitors in the trucks category have yet to arrive at the finish.

A Czech team has a less than 10-minute lead over a Russian team, which is expected to push hard to try to snatch victory.

crash One driver was seriously injured in a 4-car crash

The rally began in Dakar and crossed Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso before reaching the capital of Niger where it was disrupted by fears of terrorist attacks.

The endurance race resumed in Libya after an airlift transported the competitors and their teams from Niamey.

In another setback, a four-car crash knocked out the leaders of the race on Wednesday.

The winners are being presented with their prizes in the shadow of the Sphinx.

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See also:
18 Jan 00 |  Africa
Rally resumes after airlift
11 Jan 00 |  Africa
Terror threat forces Dakar airlift
18 Jan 00 |  Africa
Dakar rally in pictures

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