Dakar Rally: Alphand wins 12th stage

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Former World Cup downhill skier Luc Alphand won the 12th stage of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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French skier turned racing driver Luc Alphand won stage 12 of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday after the event finally started again following security fears. The weekend stages were scrapped after warnings of uncontrolled military activity in Mali - but after Monday's scheduled rest Alphand came out on top. Authorities cancelled the 10th and 11th stages over the weekend in Mali's central desert because of the threat of attack by Malian rebels, and Monday was a scheduled rest day. The BMW driver, a former World Cup downhill skier, clocked the fastest time on Stage 12 - just ahead of Jean Louis Schlesser. But there was soon controversy, with Peterhansel complaining that rival Schlesser had overtaken him in a village but outside a radar zone enforcing a 30 kph speed limit to protect people and animals. Alphand, in a BMW, clocked 1 hour, 54 minutes, 53 seconds through the valleys and forests between Bobo-Dioulasso, in western Burkina Faso, and the Mali capital Bamako. Schlesser, also of France, was second 1:28 behind in his Ford. Stephane Peterhansel came third in his Mitsubishi, 5:40 off Alphand's pace. But Peterhansel maintained his overall lead, 1:04:43 over Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka. Schlesser is third overall - 2:18:16 behind - and Alphand fourth overall, 3:53:58 back. Organisers said 77 bikes, 72 cars and 41 trucks were authorised to start the stage. In the motorcycle category, France's Cyril Despres won the stage - ahead of Marc Coma, with Jean Roma, on a KTM, in third. In the overall standings, Spaniard Roma leads Richard Sainct by more than 10 minutes with five stages remaining - with Alfie Cox third. Wednesday's 13th special stage returns to the desert with 478 kilometres between Bamako and Ayoun el Atrouss in Mauritania. The 11,090.5-kilometre rally ends on Sunday outside the Senegalese capital, Dakar. (AP)