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French alpine hero Luc Alphand nabs Dakar Rally car-race title

French alpine hero Luc Alphand nabs Dakar Rally car-race title{mosimage}DAKAR, Senegal – French driver Luc Alphand was declared winner of the 2006 Dakar Rally on Sunday after finishing the final, untimed leg of the race in Senegal.

Former World Cup overall champion Alphand had been poised to win the event after race organizers announced the final stage would not be timed to honor two young boys killed during the race.

Alphand, a former ski champion, was clocked at 53 hours, 47 minutes, 32 seconds at the end of Saturday’s penultimate stage, 17 minutes, 53 seconds ahead of South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and 1:50:38 ahead of Spain’s Nani Roma.

Alphand won the World Cup downhill title three times (1995, ’96 and ’97); the 1997 super G title and the 1997 overall title. He earned 12 World Cup wins, 10 in downhill and two in super G, winning at Kitzbuehel three times.

The rally’s course and length changes slightly every year. This year’s race was 9,043-kilometers (5,619-miles). It began New Year’s Eve in Lisbon, Portugal, and took competitors through Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Senegal.

More than 1,400 people competed this year in cars, trucks, ATVs and on motorcycles.

– The Associated Press

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