Stephane Peterhansel wins marathon stage

© Red Bull Media House
Rally Dakar 2016 - Stephane Peterhansel

Former champion Stephane Peterhansel took a chunk out of Sebastien Loeb’s overall Dakar Rally race lead with a tight victory in Wednesday’s fourth stage at Jujuy in Argentina.

The 50-year-old Team Peugeot Total driver, who has won the Dakar title a record 11 times across bike and car categories, won the marathon 429-km round stage by just 11 seconds from another former multiple champion, team mate Carlos Sainz.

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Loeb, racing the Dakar for the first time having won the World Rally title nine times earlier in his career, completed the Team Peugeot Total 1-2-3 to maintain his overall race lead at four minutes 48 seconds from Peterhansel, with reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah improving to third place for Mini.

“We’ve had another good day,’ said Loeb after defending his lead earned with back-to-back stage wins on Monday and Tuesday.

“(Co-driver) Daniel’s (Elena) work with the road book was perfect and there was absolutely no navigation mistakes for us today.

“This allowed me to focus on keeping a good rhythm. I’m happy with our stage, we didn’t take any big risks out there because this is the first half of a marathon stage. Another stage win would have been nice, but it was more important to stick to a safe rhythm and that’s what we did.”

Al-Attiyah was philosophical about his stage, admitting his rivals were difficult to keep pace with.

“It’s not easy. I did my best to attack but you just can’t keep up with the Peugeots,’ he said.

“You had to be careful as it’s a marathon stage and you can’t change anything on the car apart from the tyres. You can wash the car, but you can’t make mistakes! I tried to, but there was no way I could follow Seb. His car is really fast.”

In a tight bikes category, Portuguese Paulo Goncalves stole a march on his rivals to take a two minute 17 second lead for Honda.

He leads from team mate and home favourite Kevin Benavides with overnight leader Joan Barreda completing a Honda 1-2-3 at the top of the timings.


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