A day after his 40th birthday, Alfie Cox took his first stage win during stage six of the 2003 Dakar Rally and moved into fourth place overall in the motorbike section.

A day after his 40th birthday, Alfie Cox took his first stage win during stage six of the 2003 Dakar Rally and moved into fourth place overall in the motorbike section.

He beat second-placed Spaniard Joan Mani Roma by over a minute. Overall leader Richard Sainct finished in fifth place during the 228 km stage from El Borma to Ghadames. Cox is 3 min 33 sec behind the Frenchman. Joan Roma and Fabricio Meoni, on the heavier twin KTM bikes, recorded the same stage time and are both just 17 seconds behind Sainct. Roma is placed second overall followed by Meoni.

"The first 140km of the stage was very fast. I ran wide open, and I attacked on the last 70km in the very technical part of the stage, which required serious navigation. During the latter part of the stage we did a fair bit of dune crossing, but I was somewhat surprised at the ease with which we handled the dunes," said the South African.

"I went all out in attack and I had to focus and concentrate all the time. Fortunately, I caught Cyril Despres before the refuel. We rode together all day and caught the three front runners, Sainct, Roma and Meoni," said Cox.

In the car section, French driver Stephane Peterhansel won the 228km sixth stage ahead of Mitsubishi team-mate Hiroshi Masuoka and took the overall lead.

Peterhansel and Masuoka are followed overall by Gregoire De Mevius in a BMW X5, with Kenjiro Shinosuka and Ari Vatanen completing the top five in their Nissans. Giniel de Villiers is sixth. Two-time champion Jean-Louis Schlesser in a Schlesser-Ford was forced to drop out with engine problems.

De Villiers said: "The learning curve is very steep, but I am enjoying the race. Today, I discovered the sand dunes. My problem at the moment is to learn how to go over them correctly and at the right speed. Time and experience should help. I am very aware that every day, I am discovering new things, and it is up to me to use them in the best way possible. The car was perfect, we did not get stuck in the sand, although it was a close thing at times.”

In the experimental class of the quad bike section, South African Vicus van Deventer, the DHL Bombardier racer, is currently in third place, about 29 minutes behind leader Josef Machacek of the Czech Republic.

"I could not switch to fifth gear for most of the stage and I could not run flat-out because of the soft sand. I enjoyed the stage however; this is what we came to race in Dakar. I had a clean run today," Van Deventer.

The next stage involves 584 km across the Libyan Desert, from Ghadames to Ghat. "Running in first I'll need to set the trail in the next stage. The one up front needs to navigate. I'll be loo

sing some time and the others will take advantage of that. I'll work hard to ensure a good start, as the first part is again very fast. I don't want to lose too much time which the two-cylinder machines could gain,” said Cox.

Original article from Car