Dakar Rally: Stage 9

Paul Carruthers | January 10, 2003

KTM’s Richard Sainct won today’s stage of the Dakar Rally (Sabha/Zilla) to take the overall lead after nine stages.

Sainct topped Fabrizio Meoni (KTM) by one minute, 44 seconds today and now leads Meoni in the overall standings by one-minute, 10 seconds. Third place in today’s stage went to Jean De Azevedo, with Cyril Despres third and Jean Brucy fourth. In the overall standings, Despres is third with Brucy fourth. De Azevedo is fifth overall.

Nani Roma (pictured), meanwhile, crashed 80 miles into today’s stage and was forced to retire from the Rally.

“I was riding along a road at 160 km/h [100 mph] and entered a right-hand corner that had car tracks,” Roma said in a team press release. “I was driving on the inside but a stone forced me to the outside and there was a big rock. I tried to avoid it turning left but the rear tire did not pass. I hit against it and the bike threw me off. I guess I must have been driving at 130 km/h [100 mph] and I spun several times.

“I remember that I got up and then fell on the ground. Meoni arrived and pulled the safety beacon, then Richard Sainct and Marc Coma stopped. It’s a real shame because I’ve been riding very carefully throughout the rally, without taking too many risks, and a small mistake in a single second messes up the work of a whole year. I neither crashed nor had frights during the whole rally so far, but such is this race.”

The doctors on site examined Roma and they informed him that he had no serious injuries. He was taken to Sabha on a helicopter and from there, on the medical plane, to the bivouac in Zilla. X-rays were taken at the organization’s field hospital, showing a fracture at the top of his ulna in the right arm.

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.