Sainz 10 Minute Dakar Penalty Overturned

by James Thompson

Dakar Rally leader Carlos Sainz Sr.‘s controversial 10 minute penalty for an incident with another competitor has been rescinded after Peugeot produced new evidence.

The Spanish Peugeot driver was handed the penalty after he was accused of making contact with quad bike rider Kees Koolen and not stopping to check on him in stage 10.

Koolen made a complaint to the rally organisers and Sainz was awarded the 10 minute penalty for “potentially dangerous” conduct.

Sainz denied that he had hit Koolen stating that he had narrowly missed the out-of-control Dutch rider and said the penalty had left him “disgusted.”

The penalty did not satisfy Koolen who described the punishment as too lenient and even threatened legal action against the organisers.

Peugeot called the decision “incomprehensible” and immediately launched an appeal and on Tuesday night they gave the Dakar stewards telemetry from Sainz’s 3008DKR Maxi and other relevant information.

This prompted the cancellation of the penalty and instead Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz were issued formal advice “to take extra care while overtaking other competitors”.

“The telemetry does not show any crashes,” said Peugeot Sport boss Bruno Famin.

“Maybe a brush, but nothing like an impact. The accelerometer didn’t register it, just as Carlos hadn’t.

“In the telemetry you can see Carlos follows the quad during 12 seconds at 50km/h and when the quad loses control, he brakes again to 37km/h.

“It is clear that Carlos braked hard and turned the steering wheel sharply to avoid the quad.

“I’ve read some statements from the quad rider. I think Carlos’ behaviour in this incident was perfect and the quad rider should thank Carlos for having avoided him. These are the facts.

“It’s a matter of common sense. We are very happy that the stewards analysed the facts and looked at the dossier again to reconsider their decision.

“We are happy that they cancelled the penalty, since two days ago they didn’t have all the data to make the decision. They’ve done a good analysis.”

With the penalty rescinded, Sainz now leads team-mate Stephane Peterhansel by one hour and 45 seconds in the general classification with three days of the event remaining.

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