Gordon performing well in Dakar

Defending bike champion Marc Coma of Spain won Monday’s second stage of the Dakar Rally and took the category lead after the 185-mile leg.

In cars, defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar captured the stage while Stephane Peterhansel of France pulled into the overall lead.

This year’s rally, considered one of the most dangerous in motorsports, has already claimed three lives.

Argentine bike rider Jorge Martinez Boero died in a crash in Sunday’s first stage. On the same day, the pilot of an ultralight plane and his son died when the aircraft went down while following the race. Rescue officials identified the dead as Luis Marcelo Soldavini, 37, and son Tomas, 11.

Coma finished the special stage in 3 hours, 7 minutes, 21 seconds. He was 1:18 ahead of KTM teammate Cyril Despres of France and 2:33 ahead of Spanish rider Joan Barreda Bort.

In the overall standings, Coma was 2:30 ahead of Francisco Lopez of Chile and 2:52 in front of Despres.

”The start was very fast,” Coma said. ”Chaleco (Lopez) and me were riding at top speed. … After that, arriving at the second part of the special with sand and dunes, it was a lot more technical with some navigation to do. I took the lead and kept riding at a good pace. I’m happy because I didn’t get lost. So, it’s been a good day for me.”

Al-Attiyah, driving a Hummer this year, finished the stage in 2:47:18. He was 54 seconds in front of Peterhansel in a Mini, and 2:42 ahead of Hummer teammate Robby Gordon of the United States.

In the overall, Peterhansel is 2:28 ahead of Gordon and 2:33 in front of first-day leader Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland.

Al-Attiyah is in sixth place overall, 8:47 back.