McRae flies home after horror crash

Last updated at 09:26 06 January 2005

Colin McRae will fly back to Britain today after seeing his Dakar Rally hopes disappear in the Saharan dust.

The Scotsman was leading the event when he crashed his Nissan heavily, ending his challenge instantly.

McRae, a former world rally champion, is suffering from blurred vision after the heavy impact - while co-driver Tina Thorner is troubled by back pain.

McRae had been on course for another stage win after leading the pack through the final checkpoint of stage six, but in the closing stages he crashed out.

"Both Colin McRae and Tina Thorner have had a check-up and both have escaped without serious injury," a Nissan spokeswoman told

"McRae is suffering from troubled vision and will fly back to Scotland while Tina is suffering from a bad back.

"They lost control of the pickup after a very heavy landing on one of the numerous jumps and were sent into a multiple roll."

Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel re-discovered his form to triumph in yesterday's stage and move from 14th to fifth overall.

The Mitsubishi driver said: "This was one of the fastest stages ever on the Dakar. I had one rear right flat tyre but I feel much better now and am looking forward to the rest of the rally."

Saby leads

Volkswagen's Bruno Saby is the new leader after taking second place on stage six, with skiing great Luc Alphand just 40 seconds behind in a Mitsubishi.

Alphand said: "I saved my car through Morocco, so we are in good shape for the next few days. I would have been happy with my current position if you had given me this in Spain."

Former winner Jutta Kleinschmidt, driving a Volkswagen, moved up a place to third overall following McRae's misfortune.

Nasser Al Attiyah is lying fourth in his BMW, one place clear of Peterhansel's Mitsubishi, with former world rally champion and ex-Dakar winner Juha Kankkunen sixth in a Volkswagen.

Robby Gordon's hopes of glory on his Dakar Rally debut are in jeopardy after the NASCAR star crashed.

Gordon, who has enjoyed success on rally raids in the United States, crashed his Volkswagen just after checkpoint one and lost valuable time with front brake and gearbox troubles.

The American had been running seventh overnight, but repeated attempts to rejoin the rally met with mechanical trouble.

In the bike category, Cyril Despres moved into the overall lead despite finishing yesterday's stage only fourth.

The Frenchman crept above overnight leader Marc Coma, who was almost seven minutes off the pace.

Coma trails Despres by 35 seconds and is under pressure from Fabrizio Meoni, whose stage win yesterday rocketed him from sixth to third.

Australian rider Andy Caldecott slipped from second overnight to fourth after losing nearly nine minutes with navigational difficulties.

Alfie Cox and Isidre Esteve are fifth and sixth respectively after steady showings.

Leading Briton Mike Extance, from Derbyshire, suffered a troubled day and slipped to 39th overall after losing 99 minutes in finishing the stage 45th.

British Honda rider John Griffiths was forced to pull out of the event after breaking his wrist in an accident.

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