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Spaniards Nani Roma, Marc Coma keep Dakar lead

Monday - 1/13/2014, 5:06pm  ET

Guilherme Spinelli and co-pilot Youssef Haddad, both of Brazil, drive their Mitsubishi during the eight stage of the Dakar Rally between the cities of Salta, Argentina, and Calama, Chile, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

CALAMA, Chile (AP) -- Spaniards Nani Roma and Marc Coma kept their comfortable overall leads in the Dakar Rally after a fast eighth stage on Monday.

Both took different high-altitude routes down into Chile.

Roma and the cars undertook a 300-kilometer special from Salta, Argentina, over the Andes.

Roma endured two punctures on the stony track and finished sixth, losing eight minutes off his lead over defending champion Stephane Peterhansel of France. Peterhansel was down to 24 minutes off the pace. Giniel de Villiers of South Africa remained 48 minutes behind in third, and Orlando Terranova of Argentina stayed fourth, 51 minutes back. They were the only ones within an hour of Roma.

Peterhansel was second in the stage, about a minute behind winner Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, who led in his Mini most of the way for his 18th Dakar stage victory. Carlos Sainz of Spain was third.

Coma and the motorbikes left from Uyuni, Bolivia, on a 460-kilometer trek around the Salar de Uyuni, the world's biggest salt flats.

Coma, with a big overall lead, was happy to stay on the tail of his great rival, Cyril Despres of France, the titleholder who won his first stage of the year.

Despres beat Joan Barreda Bort of Spain and Coma by more than two minutes, but Despres was still more than two hours behind Coma overall.

Barreda remained second and 38 minutes behind Coma overall, and the only rider within an hour of the leader.

But the rally returns to the treacherous sand dunes on Tuesday, racing through the Atacama Desert from Calama to Iquique.


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