Carlos Sainz Sr. has hit out at the decision to penalise him ten minutes after stewards deemed that he had hit quad rider Kees Koolen during Saturday’s sixth stage of the Dakar Rally.
The Spaniard insists no contact was made, and his avoiding action during the stage actually prevented a collision, but following an investigation, stewards came out in favour of the quad rider and handed down the penalty to Sainz.
As a result, Sainz now has a reduced advantage at the front of the field of fifty-six minutes and thirty-seven seconds over Nasser Al-Attiyah, although Peugeot Sport has already confirmed that they intend to appeal the penalty.
“I’m very upset by this decision,” said Sainz. “The version of events described by the quad bike rider doesn’t match up to the reality. In fact, my actions meant that we avoided an accident.
“I’m sorry for what happened to him, but what occurred was that I came up to him and set off the Sentinel. He pulled over to one side and looked at me. There was plenty of space, although the road was very muddy.
“He then lost control and came back onto the line. I swerved to avoid him, and although it was close, there was no contact between us. He finished 12th on the stage in the end.
“If we had hit each other, of course I would have stopped. I absolutely don’t agree with this decision.”
Team boss Bruno Famin says data on board Sainz’s Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi backs up their version of events, and it was clear no contact was made between driver and rider on the stage between La Paz and Uyuni.
“The decision is incomprehensible,” said Famin. “There’s nothing concrete in the folder, and it’s just somebody’s word against another.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s quite clear that there was no contact between the quad and the car. If it had really happened as the quad rider claims, unfortunately he may not have been around anymore to talk about it, given the speed of the car.
“All our data backs up Carlos’s version of events, who has always behaved impeccably.”