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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 19:09 GMT
Dakar stages cancelled
Stephane Peterhansel in action
Peterhansel maintained his lead
The two weekend stages of the Dakar Rally have been cancelled due to fears over the security situation in Mali.

It is believed Mauritanians suspected of carrying out an attempted military coup in the country in June may have crossed into Mali.

Stephen Peterhansel and Nani Roma kept their race leads in the main categories after Friday's ninth stage.

But Colin McRae suffered with a second day of mechanical problems, gearbox failure hitting his hopes hard.

Defending champion Hiroshi Masuoka won the stage, completing the 355km run from Tidjikja to Nema in just over nine hours.

The Japanese Mitsubushi driver finished 18 minutes 32 seconds ahead of team-mate Peterhansel, with Germany's Jutta Kleinschmidt in third in her Volkswagen.

Peterhansel retained an overall advantage of more than an hour over Masuoka.

Meanwhile in the motorbike category, Roma lost time, but still held on to his lead which has been cut to a little over three minutes.

Frenchman Cyril Despres, riding a KTM, took the stage win in a time of nine hours 34 minutes 33 seconds.

South Africa's Alfie Cox finished second with Richard Sainct in third.

The field will now enjoy three days off after the weekend stages were cancelled.

"For reasons linked to the security of the rally and its competitors, we have judged it necessary to modify stages 10 and 11," rally organisers confirmed.

"These two stages have been neutralised and will become liaisons.

"This decision has been taken in consultation with Mali and French authorities.

"The rally will therefore stop in Bamako (Mali), on Saturday, and rejoin Bobo-Dioulasso, on Sunday, where the competitors will enjoy, as previously organised, a rest day."

In addition to fears over Mauritanian militants, security forces are still looking for European tourists kidnapped by Algerian militants, the last of whom was released in the Malian desert.

The rally will return to its normal schedule with stage 12 on Tuesday.


Overall positions after stage nine:

Cars:

1. Stephane Peterhansel (Fra) Mitsubishi
at 28 hours 16 minutes
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (Jpn) Mitsubishi +1hr 4mins
3. Jean-Louis Schlesser (Fra) Schlesser Ford +2:22:28
4. Gregoire De Mevius (BMW) +3:52:17
5. Luc Alphand (BMW) +3:59:38

Motorbikes:

1. Nani Roma (Spa) KTM
at 31 hours 5 minutes 35 seconds
2. Richard Sainct (Fra) KTM +3mins 33secs
3. Alfie Cox (SA) KTM +28:21
4. Cyril Despres (Fra) KTM +44:54
5. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (Nor) KTM +58:20




SEE ALSO
Peterhansel back in front
08 Jan 04  |  Motorsport
McRae suffers in the sand
07 Jan 04  |  Motorsport
McRae blasts into contention
06 Jan 04  |  Motorsport
Peterhansel hit with penalty
05 Jan 04  |  Motorsport
Vatanen shines in Africa
04 Jan 04  |  Motorsport
Peterhansel takes Dakar lead
03 Jan 04  |  Motorsport
McRae makes Dakar move
02 Jan 04  |  Motorsport
Shinozuka wins Dakar prologue
01 Jan 04  |  Motorsport


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