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Spanish driver Carlos Sainz wins his third Dakar Rally

AFP; Veteran Spanish driver Carlos Sainz has won the DakarRally for the third time. 

Sainz, 57, won four stages on the way to his third title, finishing 6min 21sec ahead of Qatar's Nasser al-Attiyah in the overall standings

He led from the third stage and crossed the finish line 6min 21sec ahead of nearest challenger and reigning champion Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar, who had managed to cut Sainz's lead to just 24 seconds on Tuesday but fell back after navigation blunders.

Stephane Peterhansel was third at 9 min 58 sec behind in his Mini. Both the Frenchman and Sainz won four stages each in the marathon 12-day, 7,800-kilometre (4,800-mile) race.

This year's Dakar Rally was controversially staged in Saudi Arabia, a decision which has sparked an angry reaction from critics of the country's human rights record. AFP

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