Ski star Alphand has fresh success
TIDJIKJA, Mauritania -- France's former ski champion Luc Alphand took the Dakar Rally 14th stage honors for his second stage win in three days.
The BMW driver, World Cup ski supremo in 1997, covered this 548km run between Ayoun El Atrous and Tidjikja in six hours 51 minutes seven seconds.
Dakar debutant Colin McRae, attempting to win for the second day running, was more than 14 minutes adrift in second.
Alphand had a real battle with former world rally champion McRae, the Frenchman reflecting: "In the dunes, I saw McRae and told myself 'I'm going to try and impress him and overtake him'.
"That's what I did but I think it annoyed him as he overtook me again later. On the finish line he said 'I thought you were a skier.'"
Stephan Peterhansel took third to maintain his overall lead, the Frenchman enjoying a one hour five minute four seconds cushion over Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka in a Mitsubishi.
The 14th stage proved a disaster for four-time winner Ari Vatanen of Finland, who crashed out when he hit a lone tree at speed.
"It was 100 percent my fault," said the Nissan driver. "We knocked the tree down but knocked our car out, too."
Vatanen, winner in 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991, had been lying 28th overall in his 11th Dakar Rally.
French KTM rider Cyril Despres won the motorbike section in six hours 55 minutes 10 seconds for his third stage success of this year's rally.
Another KTM competitor, South African Alfie Cox, was second, 1:23 adrift with team-mate, Spain's Nani Roma, third.