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May 29, 2017

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Nani Roma cruises to Dakar victory as Spain doubles up

VALPARAOSO, Chile -- Spanish driver Nani Roma won the Dakar Rally on Saturday, 10 years after he clinched the motorcycle title in the grueling event.

Roma, 42, overturned a 26-second overnight deficit on his Mini teammate and 11-time champion Stephane Peterhansel to take victory.

South Africa's Giniel de Villiers (Toyota) won the stage, the 13th and final one of the race over 157 kilometers from La Serena to Valparaiso, with Roma in fourth place behind fellow Mini drivers Krzysztof Holowczyc and Vladimir Vasilyev.

Roma becomes just the third man to win the Dakar title on two and four wheels after Peterhansel and Hubert Auriol.

His win came after a controversial two days when Mini insisted on team orders which would have seen Roma, Peterhansel and 2011 champion Nasser Al-Attiyah complete a podium lockout for the manufacturers.

But Friday saw Roma suffer a puncture, allowing Peterhansel to retake the overall lead.

It was unclear in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's conclusion whether or not the Mini drivers had received new instructions.

Peterhansel, six times a champion on two wheels and five times on four, was 13th on Saturday and took second place overall, five minutes and 38 seconds behind his teammate.

Al-Attiyah, meanwhile, was left to rue the one-hour penalty he collected for missing waypoints on the 10th stage as he finished 56 minutes and 52 seconds behind Roma and in third overall in another Mini.

"I always had it in my head that I wanted to win in a car after winning the motorcycles," said Roma, whose wife also took part in the race competing in the motorcycle event.

"I don't know if this is the greatest stress I have experienced, but it was very tough," said Roma.

"The second week, with hard, long stages wasn't easy. But 10 years after winning on a motorcycle also on Jan. 18, I have won in the cars. It's a dream come true."

Peterhansel admitted it had been a frustrating end to the race.

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