DAKAR: Peterhansel edges Loeb, keeps overall lead

2017-01-09 21:57:20

Following Saturday's canceled stage and Sunday's rest day, the riders and drivers were back in action on a modified 100-mile special stage.

Due to the persistent bad weather, a new course – primarily on sandy terrain – was designed from Bolivian capital La Paz to Uyuni with the competitors having to repair their vehicles alone for the first time.

One week ago 318 vehicles started the race; only 110 bikes, 25 quads, 72 cars and 48 trucks remain.

In the car category, 12-time winner Stephane Peterhansel edged fellow Frenchman Sebastien Loeb for his second stage win of the race. The French Team Peugeot duo pushed each other all the way with Peterhansel prevailing by just 48 seconds, ensuring he keeps a slender advantage from his compatriot at the top of the overall leaderboard.

"It was small stage, but it was very interesting," Peterhansel said. "There was a lot of navigation and it wasn't easy. It was a little bit easier for me, because there were two cars in front of me and some tracks to follow, but we were doing good with the navigation already. There were some small dunes. They weren't really complicated, but with the altitude we don't have a lot of power. The overall classification is still very close, but it's a really interesting race for everybody, I think. We're still in the fight and that's the most important thing."

Loeb agreed that the short stage was "quite complicated."

"At the end, there was a lot of mud, with big water splashes in faster sections, so we had to be a bit careful, but it was OK and there is no problem with the car," Loeb explained. "I think we drove quite a good stage and we will see how it is for the others. It went well and it seems that compared to Roma we are in front, but he's just finishing now so maybe he's in front of us. It was ok, but there's a long way to go".

Giniel de Villiers in the Toyota Hilux placed third, and Nani Roma took advantage of a poor day from Cyril Despres to finish fourth.

In bikes, American Honda rider Ricky Brabec clinched Stage 7 from teammate Paulo Goncalves, overcoming an 18-second deficit to Goncalves after 56 miles to end up winning with a gap of 1minute, 44 seconds. He is the sixth different stage winner in this year's category.

KTM Factory Team rider Sam Sunderland still sits atop the standings after placing third, but he had a scare 24 miles in after stopping in the sand dunes, more than 300 yards away from the correct route before recovering and limiting his losses.

"It was a lot harder a stage than we were expecting – there was a lot of navigation," Sunderland said. "All in all, it was OK. I lost some time today because it was a sandy stage and the guys from the back can see the tracks cleanly. We'll just keep ticking along. The bike's working well, the boys did a good job yesterday. I'm really happy with everything on the bike. It's the first stage of the marathon day and the tyres are good so we'll just keep ticking along. So far, so good."

Sergey Karyakin won his first quad stage in 2017 to take command of the general classification on his Yamaha. The Russian has been consistent all race but finally picked up the elusive stage win over Axel Dutrie. Ignacio Casale had another solid day to finish third and keep himself in the mix.

In the trucks category, Russian Dmitry Sotnikov picked up his second stage win, having kept his Kamaz truck in the top 10 in each stage since the start. He finished with a 2m51s lead over the Iveco driven by Ton Van Genugten. Sotnikov climbed to second place in the general standings, which are still led by Gerard de Rooy, who maintain his advantage of just over two minutes.

Red Bull Content Pool contributed to this report.

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