Nasser Al-Attiyah took a big step towards his first Dakar Rally win after Volkswagen teammate Carlos Sainz hit trouble on the 11th stage of the event.
The reigning champion, who was second behind Al-Attiyah until yesterday, lost over an hour after breaking his suspension at the 410-km point of the stage. As a result of the problem, Sainz dropped to third in the standings and is now nearly 80 minutes behind Al-Attiyah and half an hour behind Giniel de Villiers, second in another Volkswagen.
Al-Attiyah won today's stage from BMW's Stephane Peterhansel, the Frenchman crossing the finish line just 1.5 minutes behind the Qatari. De Villiers was third in the stage.
"Carlos's problems will allow Nasser to have a much more comfortable last two days," said Peterhansel, fourth in the standings. "Carlos already lost the Dakar two days from the finish two years ago. We know that it is always complicated to win the Dakar and he's seen just how much this time.
"As for us, there isn't much left to be gained by going out to attack. We're in fourth and third place is too far away. It would be a shame to end up having an accident. Even if, for us, fourth position isn't much to write home about, it would be good for the team and the mechanics to get the car back to Buenos Aires in this position."
The rally finishes on Sunday in the Argentinean capital.