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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 January, 2005, 18:03 GMT
Peterhansel retains Dakar crown
Stephane Peterhansel (l) and team-mate Nani Roma
Peterhansel (left) is congratulated by team-mate Nani Roma
Mitsubishi driver Stephane Peterhansel safely negotiated Sunday's final stage to retain his Dakar Rally title.

The Frenchman finished in an overall time of 52 hours, 31 minutes and 39 seconds - some 27 mins and 14 secs ahead of compatriot Luc Alphand.

The final 31km stage was won by another Frenchman, Bruno Saby, in a Volkswagen.

France's KTM rider Cyril Despres won the motorbike title ahead of Marc Coma and Alfie Cox, after American Kellon Walch triumphed in the final stage.

Afterwards, Peterhansel admitted it was a huge relief just to have finally finished.

"We made steady progress so that we were ahead last night but there was still this small stage. We were very stressed this morning and everything went well so it's really a big, big relief," he said.

He was also proud of the fact he had won the driving event for the second year in a row, after years of success as a motorbike rider.

"Last year with my first victory, I had the impression of now being a real driver, no longer a former motorcyclist," he said.

"This year that's been confirmed."

This year's motorcycling champion, Despres, admitted to mixed emotions after winning an event that claimed the life of team-mate Fabrizio Meoni, who died last week.

"It was difficult to know how I would feel when I crossed this final finish line, whether the sadness would be greater than the happiness," he said.

"In fact the two are mixed together."


Stage 16 results - Cars
1. Bruno Saby (Fr) 19 minutes
2. Thierry Magnaldi (Fr) Honda 20 seconds behind
3. Ari Vatanen (Fin) Nissan at 0.57
4. Giniel de Villiers (SA) Nissan at 1.15
5. Jutta Kleinschmidt (Ger) Volkswagen at 1.52

Overall final placings:
1. Stephane Peterhansel (Fra) Mitsubishi 52 hours 31 minutes 39 seconds
2. Luc Alphand (Fra) Mitsubishi 27 minutes 14 seconds behind
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (Ger) Volkswagen at 3:22.00
4. Giniel de Villiers (SA) Nissan at 4:02.36
5. Bruno Saby (Fra) Volkswagen at 8:44.14

Stage 16 results - Motorcycles
1. Kellon Walch (US) KTM 17 minutes 17 seconds
2. Isidre Esteve Pujol (Sp) KTM one minute 9 seconds behind
3. Eric Verhoef (Ned) KTM at 1.12
4. Arjan Brouwer (Ned) Yamaha at 1.14
5. Bart Franssen (Ned) KTM at 1121

Overall final placings:
1. Cyril Despres (Fra) KTM 47 hours 27 minutes 31 seconds
2. Marc Coma (Spa) KTM at 9 minutes 17 seconds behind
3. Alfie Cox (SA) KTM at 11.29
4. Isidre Esteve Pujol (Spa) KTM at 11.51
5. David Fretigne (Fra) Yamaha at 13.30



SEE ALSO
De Villers seals Dakar stage win
15 Jan 05 |  Motorsport
Veteran Vatanen takes Dakar stage
14 Jan 05 |  Motorsport
Rider Meoni dies in Dakar Rally
11 Jan 05 |  Motorsport
Bike racer dies after Dakar crash
10 Jan 05 |  Motorsport


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