Carlos Sainz Sr. has been hit with a ten-minute time penalty after Dakar Rally officials found him guilty of hitting quad driver Kees Koolen during Saturday’s sixth stage between La Paz and Uyuni.
The race-leading Spaniard had been under investigation for allegedly colliding with the Dutch rider on Saturday, with Koolen lodging a complaint with the organisers, who have subsequently handed him the penalty that reduces his advantage at the front of the field to fifty-six minutes and thirty-seven seconds over Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Sainz remains adamant that he did not touch Koolen at all, and Bruno Famin, the team boss of Peugeot Sport says the officials will be notified of the team’s intention to appeal the penalty.
“The truth is that Carlos did not hit the quad, because it was not damaged and also finished 10th in the two stages since,” said Famin. “In addition, if the organisers believe there was bad behaviour on Carlos’ part, the penalty should be a monetary one.
“We are going to say that we are going to appeal the decision in the next hour. We can present it in the next three-to-four days and then it will be several weeks until the decision – if we do not go internationally. Otherwise, it’s a process that can take five to six months.”
Famin also believes the way the situation has been handled could lead to other questionable decisions being penalised, and it could ultimately mean that the winner of the rally on Saturday may not ultimately be the winner once the appeal has been heard.
“Nobody really can understand this penalty,” said Famin. “This leaves the door open to anything. If any competitor can say that he almost collided with another, we will all have a 10-minute penalty. It really is incomprehensible.
“They [the stewards] want to be protagonists of the race because people are going to talk about it and even after [the end of the rally in] Cordoba we will not know the winner.”
Stewards have apparently determined that Koolen’s quad was damaged, but they remain unclear whether the damage was caused by Sainz’s 3008DKR Maxi.