DAKAR: Peterhansel in position for 13th overall win

2017-01-13 23:51:41

A narrow victory in the 11th and penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally – 470 miles from San Juan to Rio Cuarto, Argentina – might not be enough for Sebastien Loeb.

Peterhansel opened three minutes before Loeb, but the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist overtook his teammate early in the day. Loeb crossed the finish line 18 seconds ahead of Stephane Peterhansel on Friday, meaning the 5m,32s gap is likely not enough to prevent Peterhansel from winning his 13th Dakar. Cyrl Despres is 32m54s behind in third, meaning Peugeot most likely will sweep the podium.

"It was a big fight this morning with Seb," Peterhansel said. "We lost three minutes on the first part. I think he went on full attack. On the second part, I started first, but I stopped quickly because he was starting just four seconds behind me. But, a few kilometers later he got a puncture, so I took the opportunity to go on full attack for all the second part. In the end, it was a nice fight.

"It is really an honor for me to fight with Sébastien Loeb. I know that he's really fast on WRC type track. He's my teammate and we have a lot of respect; the spirit is really good. Just before the last stage we smiled together and joked together so the team spirit is really good.”

Loeb said that despite giving it all, it wasn't enough.

"We won the stage but we wanted more," said Loeb. "We gave everything we had and gained some time back during the first part. But we had a puncture at the beginning of the second one… It’s been a great battle, it was good to fight within seconds. We couldn’t have done more."

Runaway bike category leader Sam Sunderland ran into a bit of trouble, stopping for several minutes before getting under way. Honda's Paulo Goncalves of Portugal picked up the stage win by 1m,9s over Joan Barreda, but KTM rider Sunderland, who finished fifth, still holds a 33-minute lead over teammate Matthias Walkner.

"Victory is starting to creep into the mind a little bit and I'm trying to fight it away and stay focused on the job," said Sunderland, who would win his first Dakar Rally. "It's not easy, you know. It's hard to explain the things that go through your mind when you're on the bike for twelve to fourteen hours a day on your own. You start to have all kinds of crazy thoughts. It's not easy to keep them quiet and focus on the job. We've done a good job, the team have been great and I'm really happy."

In the quad category, Sergey Karyakin won his second straight stage by 20 minutes ahead of Argentina's Daniel Domaszewski and now has a lead of more than 1h,16m over second-place Ignacio Casale of Chile.

Trucks category leader Eduard Nikolaev from won a second consecutive stage in Rio Cuarto, beating Argentinean driver Federico Villagra by only 52 seconds.

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