Dakar: Sanabria surprises in quads; Nikolaev gets fifth stage win of event (VIDEO)

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Paraguay’s Nelson Augusto Sanabria was a surprise winner in the quads’ Stage 7 on Sunday in the 2015 Dakar Rally.

Sanabria, who finished 12th overall in his inaugural Dakar last season, rushed into the lead going into the seventh and final way point in the stage from Iquique to Uyuni. He was then able to hang on for a five-minute, 46-second lead over current overall leader Rafal Sonik.

Ignacio Casale, the reigning Dakar quads champ, finished third in the stage at 11 minutes, 37 seconds behind Sanabria despite sustaining what’s being simply reported as a leg injury by the event web site.

No additional word has been given on how minor or severe that injury is. Hopefully, it’s more towards the minor side and he can continue on with his title defense.

Casale’s deficit in the overall standings did grow because of his finish behind Sonik. The Polish rider now leads the Chilean by just under 22 minutes.

Following his setback on Saturday, Eduard Nikolaev got to work on reducing his deficit in the overall truck standings.

Nikolaev secured his fifth stage win of the 2015 Dakar in the trucks’ Stage 8. The KAMAZ pilot won over Iveco’s Gerard de Rooy by more than 11 minutes and defending Dakar champ Andrey Karginov by almost 15 minutes.

But even more important for Nikolaev, fifth-place stage finisher and overall leader Ayrat Mardeev was beaten soundly by more than half a hour.

Taking that into account, Nikolaev’s moved up to third position behind him and Karginov, and his deficit has shrunk considerably to just 12 minutes, 41 seconds.

With Karginov holding second position over him by a gap of seven and a half minutes, Nikolaev must keep marching forward.

NBCSN’s coverage of the Dakar Rally continues with Stage 7A/8A/8B highlights on Monday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET.