Dakar Rally: Colin McRae wins 13th stage

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Britain's Colin McRae wins the 13th stage of the Dakar Rally and becomes the first Briton in nearly 20 years to win a car special in the offroad race.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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Ayoun El Atrous:

Britain's Colin McRae won the 13th stage of the Dakar Rally on Wednesday and became the first Briton in nearly 20 years to win a car special in the offroad race. McRae, in a Nissan, took 5 hours, 52 minutes, 58 seconds to cover the 734 kilometres from Bamako in Mali to Ayoun El Atrous in Mauritania. Fellow-Nissan driver Giniel De Villiers of South Africa was second, seven minutes and 40 seconds behind, with Ari Vatanen of Finland third, 8:47 behind. Stephane Peterhansel of France, driving a Mitsubishi, leads the overall standings. Wednesday's 13th stage of the Dakar Rally took the riders and drivers from Bamako, the capital of Mali, to Ayoun El Atrous in Mauritania. Ahead of them, 734 kilometres of tracks - including a 478-kilometre brand new special stage. By the end of the day, Britain's former world rally champion Colin McRae had chalked up his first Dakar win with a resounding victory after a troubled week. McRae has struggled to stay in the rally in the past week after impressive early form. His Nissan was stuck in the desert dunes last Friday but his continued presence was ensured when organisers cancelled the weekend stages before a scheduled rest day after reports of armed bandits in Mali. The break allowed McRae time to repair his vehicle and he managed to reach the rally bivouac before Monday night's deadline. All that was forgotten on Wednesday as the Scot, driving a Nissan pickup in his debut Dakar, reached the final checkpoint of the 478-km special stage 25 minutes faster than Mitsubishi's defending champion Hiroshi Masuoka. In doing so, he became the first British driver to win a Dakar stage since Andrew Cowan for Mitsubishi in 1990 and he led a Nissan 1-2-3 with South African Giniel de Villiers second and Finland's Ari Vatanen third. Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, who finished in eighth place today, remains comfortably in the overall lead, one hour two minutes and 29 seconds ahead of team mate Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan. Peterhansel's compatriot, and former downhill skier, Luc Alphand is third in a BMW. In the motorcycle category, Spaniard Nani Roma stayed ahead of his rivals after Frenchman David Fretigne, on a Yamaha, took his third stage win of the event in a time of 6:10:25. Roma, who fell off his KTM in a near-miss with a cow, leads Frenchman Richard Sainct by seven minutes and 25 seconds, with Cyril Despres - also of France - third, 45 minutes behind Roma. The 11,090.5-kilometre rally, which spans two continents and seven countries, ends on Sunday outside Dakar, the capital of Senegal. (AP)