DAKAR: Peterhansel holds off Loeb for 13th victory

2017-01-14 16:32:29

Dakar legend Stephane Peterhansel faced one of the toughest challenges of his long career in the marathon event at this year's two-week rally raid through South America in having rallying legend Sebastien Loeb as a teammate, but the Frenchman proved up to the challenge. The defending champion finished second to Loeb again in Saturday's final stage, but Loeb's fifth stage win, by 19 seconds over Peterhansel's identical Peugeot 3008DKR was not enough to overcome the advantage Peterhansel had built up, as he held on to win for the 13th time at Dakar  his seventh win in cars, to go with six on motorcycles  by 5m32s.

"I'd like to thank Peugeot for providing us with awesome cars and, especially, for not issuing team orders, which is a great show of fair play because it puts us all on an even footing," declared Peterhansel. "We were fighting against a super-fast champion who knows how to race from the lead and isn't easily impressed. Yesterday, it was decided by a flat tire, and that was probably the turning point in this Dakar.

"My strategy was to push Sebastien to his limits. This made him more likely to make mistakes, which he eventually did, so it's not a matter of luck."

dakar2Loeb drew satisfaction at getting closer in his second Dakar run.

"It was better this time round, and we managed to stay on the track," he noted. "We made a few navigation mistakes, but at the end of the day we did quite well in a Dakar as difficult as this one. A small mechanical cost us some time at the start, and then we had to bust a gut to make up the lost time. We finished second… Not too far. Sure, we were faster and, when we went on the attack, we opened up large gaps. We have what it takes to win the race.

"I don't think I'm going to race in as many editions of the Dakar as Peterhansel, but my aim is to win it someday: we'll have to keep on trying. Right now, we've got three Peugeot cars on the podium, so we'll enjoy the moment and see what happens next."

Peugeot's near-perfect Dakar was completed by Cyril Despres, who finished third overall, 33 minutes behind the winner. The Toyotas of Nani Roma and Giniel de Villiers rounded out the top five, 1h15m and 1h49m behind Peterhansel, respectively.

In the truck category, Eduard Nikolaev restored Kamaz to its former glory and took his second Dakar victory ahead of teammate Dmitriy Sotnikov. In bikes, Sam Sunderland crowned his rally-raid career with his first Dakar victory ahead of teammate Matthias Walkner.


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