Loeb extends Dakar Rally lead
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UPDATE:12:30pm Dakar Rally officials have credited defending champion Stephane Peterhansel (France) with a 14m 13s correction to his time in today’s tenth stage. Peterhansel had stopped to assist a motorcycle competitor who had collided with his Peugeot 3008DKR early in the 449km stage from Chilecito to San Juan in Argentina.
The revised results return Peterhansel to the rally lead with a 5m 50s advantage over team-mate Sebastien Loeb (France) while third placed Cyril Despres (France) is 25m 40s behind the leader in the third position with two days of the rally remaining.
Original: Sebastien Loeb extended his lead in the Dakar Rally overnight on the provisional results of the tenth stage between Chilecito and San Juan in Argentina.
Loeb won the 449km stage — split into two sections — by 2m 23s from his Peugeot team-mate Cyril Despres (France) while defending champion Stephane Peterhansel (France) was only third fastest today and lost 6m 45s to Loeb.
That gives Loeb a provisional lead of 8m 23s over Peterhansel with only two stages remaining. But the margin may change when officials review an incident early in today’s stage.
Peterhansel’s Peugeot 3008DKR collided with motorcycle competitor Simon Marcic (Slovenia) and stopped to provide assistance until medical support arrived. Peterhansel is expected to be credited with the time he spent assisting Marcic.
It was an eventful day as the rally resumed following the cancellation of Wednesday’s ninth stage.
Fifth placed Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) collided with a truck and the impact damaged the radiator of his X-Raid Mini and forced his retirement. And fourth placed Nani Roma (Toyota Hilux) lost more than 30 minutes today and his now 55m 05s behind Loeb.
Fourth fastest today behind the Peugeot trio was Saudi WRC driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi who has found form after suffering from altitude sickness earlier in the rally. He was 11m 35s behind stage winner Loeb and 1m 09s quicker than Argentina’s Orlando Terranova (Mini) who moved up to sixth place overall today.
A close battle is being fought for fifth place in the rally with South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Hilux) only 2m 27s ahead of Terranova.
The motorcycle leaderboard was also reshuffled today with second placed Pablo Quintanilla (Chile) getting lost and then dropping out of the race today and receiving medical attention for dizzy spells.
Honda’s Michael Metge (France, above) was the stage winner by 55s from team-mate Joan Barreda Bort (Spain) but it wasn’t all good news for the Honda squad with American Ricky Brabec retiring just 12km from the completion of the stage.
Although only 13th fastest in today’s stage, overall rally leader Sam Sunderland (GB) extended his advantage at the front of the field as Quintanilla retired.
The result of today’s stage means KTM riders have taken control of the race. The Austrian bike brand is looking to extend a Dakar winning streak record that dates back to 2001 and now commands the top three places with two stages to go.
Sunderland leads by 30m 01s from Matthias Walkner (Austria) and Spanish rider Gerard Farres Guell is 38m 43s behind the leader. The nearest threat to the KTM trio is Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren (France) who struggled for pace today and finished the stage in 18th position. He is 41m 57s behind rally leader Sunderland.
In the Truck category leader Eduard Nikolaev (Russia, above) sprinted to the lead today with a stage win ahead of Kamaz Master team-mate Dmitry Sotnikov (Russia). Nikolaev, the 2013 Dakar winner, now leads Sotnikov by 5m 05s in the overall classification.
Dutch driver Gerard de Rooy (Iveco Powerstar) — the 2016 winner — had been close behind the Kamaz duo but lost time today. He remains third overall but is now 24m 17s behind the leader.
Friday’s penultimate stage from San Juan to Rio Cuarto is 759km including a special stage of 292km.