The Dakar Rally has restarted following the half-way rest day in the Bolivian capital of La Paz with defending champion Stephane Peterhansel (France) extending his lead on the first stage of the second week.
The heavy rain that led to the cancellation of stage six on Saturday continues to effect the event with today’s La Paz to Uyuri stage being shortened from the originally planned 322km to 164km.
Rally leader Peterhansel clocked 1h 54m 08s for today’s shortened stage to edge Peugeot team-mate Sebastien Loeb (France) by 48s. The margin between the French duo in the diesel-powered Peugeot 3008DKR machines at the front of the field is now 1m 57s.
Spaniard Nani Roma (Toyota Hilux V8) moved up to third place today as the Peugeot of Cyril Despres (France) lost time. Roma is 11m 07s behind the rally leader and has moved 2m 54s ahead of Despres.
Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen continues to run in fifth position and is the leading Mini driver but has now slipped 47m 24s behind the rally leader.
The other mover as the rally began its second week was former winner Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) who was third fastest today in his Toyota Hilux. He climbed two places to sixth in the general classification.
Today’s motorcycle stage winner was American Ricky Brabec (Honda) who continues to move up the overall rankings after being one of the Honda riders to be stung with a 60-minute penalty when the team refuelled in the incorrect location on stage five.
Brabec won today’s stage by 1m 44s from team-mate Paulo Goncalves (Portugal) while rally leader Sam Sunderland (GB) was third today on his KTM.
Sunderland now leads the bike class by 17m 45s from Chilean Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) while French rider Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha) is a further 4m 31s back.
Stage eight which runs tonight (NZ time) is the last day of high altitude conditions taking the rally from Uyuni to Salta and includes a 492km competitive section.