DAKAR: Loeb takes lead with stage 2 win

2017-01-03 19:52:54

Rally legend Sebastien Loeb took the overall lead of the Dakar Rally by setting the pace on Tuesday's second stage of the event through the "Chaco" region of Argentina. Leading from from start to finish with his Peugeot 3008DKR, Loeb led opening stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) home by 1m23s at the end of the 171-mile run, but the Frenchman was cautious not to put too much stock in his form just yet.

Sure, I like to be in this position but it's a bit early in the rally," said Loeb. "But, it's good to have a pace like that. Today was a stage that was really, really fast; a bit unusual. I hope tomorrow will be continue to be at the same rhythm for the fight. I think we did a good stage with no mistakes that was the most important thing. It's OK for tomorrow. Daniel [Elena, co-driver] has learned a lot during this year and we'll have to do good work with the navigation, but I think he is able to do so."

Carlos Sainz (Peugeot) and Giniel de Villiers (Toyota) took third and fourth to remain in challenging positions, but the defending Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel again struggled, dropping some seven minutes.

Although this year marks the ninth time the Dakar has been run in Argentina, the 2017 route is the first to cut through the Chaco region. Competitors had to negotiate some narrow tracks which kicked up plenty of dust in a setting reminiscent of the African savannah, while the regular presence of livestock along the route also made things interesting.

"There were a lot of cows. A couple of them caught me a bit by surprise," noted Australia's Toby Price, winner of today's stage in the motorcycle class, in which he now enjoys an overall advantage of more than three minutes. "You're going along roads that aren't more than a car width's wide and if a cow steps out from behind one of the trees or the bushes, it's not going to be too pretty – but you've already got enough to do than think about that when you're on the bike in the middle of the stage. We have more kangaroos back home than cows, but I'd rather pick on a kangaroo a little bit more than a cow!"

In the quad category, Pablo Copetti fought a stage-long duel with Nelson Sanabria and triumphed over the Paraguayan at the end of the special. The Argentinean is the new category leader in his native territory. 

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