X-Raid team boss Sven Quandt is still optimistic that Stephane Peterhansel can fight for victory in the Dakar Rally despite falling 14 minutes behind leader Carlos Sainz due to a series of punctures on Friday's sixth stage.
Peterhansel was closing in on Volkswagen driver Sainz before he first lost four minutes regaining the course after missing a way point in sand dunes, and was then further delayed by four punctures later on the stage. He remains third in the standings behind Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah as the field regroups during today's rest day. Despite yesterday's problems, Quandt said X-Raid and Peterhansel would still be pushing for victory when the rally resumes for its second half on Sunday.
"Stephane drove very well, but four punctures on a car with three spares is always going to be a problem," said Quandt. "He needed to use the pressure bottle in the car to re-inflate the last tire to get to the end. He lost a lot of time and that means he is some distance behind. It will be difficult to challenge for the victory now, but we will do our best.
"We now need to analyze the stages that we have left and where we could possibly get some time back. We know from last year that this will not be easy, but there are some stages where we can make up some time."
Peterhansel's fellow X-Raid BMW drivers Kryzsztof Holowczyc and Orlando Terranova are currently fifth and seventh, while the team's new Mini is back up to ninth in the hands of Guerlain Chicherit.
"Guerlain drove very well in the Mini," said Quandt. "He was driving carefully and is now inside the top 10, which is great."