Former champion Carlos Sainz produced a commanding drive to take the overall lead in the Dakar Rally following Tuesday’s ninth stage around Belen in Argentina.
The Team Peugeot Total driver, winner of the world’s toughest rally raid event in 2010, completed the course in two hours 35.32 minutes, ten seconds faster than second-placed Dutchman Erik van Loon with fellow Mini driver Mikko Hirvonen of Finland in third.
The win put Sainz clear overall on a disappointing day for his team mates.
Stephane Peterhansel suffered punctures and being stuck in sand to go second but seven minutes behind the Spaniard Sainz.
Sebastien Loeb, whose mechanics worked miracles overnight to get his car to the start line after a spectacular roll on Monday, again suffered a frustrating day and slipped to 13th in the rankings in his first tilt at the Dakar.
Australia’s Toby Price confirmed his place at the top of the bike standings with a solid victory, his winning margin of seven minutes allowing him to take a 24-minute lead overall from his KTM team mate Stefan Svitko.
RESULTS STAGE 9
1. PRICE (AUS), 2. BENAVIDES (ARG), 3. SVITKO (SVK)
1. SAINZ (ESP), 2. VAN LOON (NLD), 3. HIRVONEN (FIN)
1. COPETTI (ARG), 2. PATRONELLI ALEJANDRO (ARG), 3. PATRONELLI MARCOS (ARG)
1. DE ROOY (NLD), 2. VAN GENUGTEN (NLD), 3. KARGINOV (RUS)