Dakar Stage 10: Peterhansel back in front as Sainz strikes trouble


Eleven-times Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel took back control of this year’s event, by leading home teammate Cyril Despres in yet another Peugeot one-two during yesterday’s dramatic 244 km special from Belen to La Rioja in Argentina.

Starting the stage – which had been shortened from 278 km due to heavy rain - second by teammate and overnight leader Carlos Sainz, Peterhansel’s attack on the lead took a knock early on with the Frenchman experiencing difficulty in finding the first waypoint.

Once back on track, a scintillating drive saw him reel in the former double World Rally Champion, before eventually crossing the line five minutes 40 secs ahead of Despres.

Sainz’s defence of his overall lead however came undone right from the start with the Spaniard also battling to find the same waypoint as his teammate, before being forced to stop with a flat tyre at the first checkpoint.

Although able to claw back some time, the 2010 Dakar winner’s day went from bad to worse as his 2008 DKR become stuck in the dunes at kilometre 174, and then grinding to a halt 31 km from the finish due to a broken strut between the engine and gearbox.

Forced to wait for the service truck, he eventually finished the stage six hours down on Peterhansel and out of contention for the victory.

Elsewhere, Russian Vladimir Vasilyev bounced back from a difficult stage nine to clinch the third fastest time in his Overdrive-run Toyota Hilux, less than two minutes ahead of the leading Mini of Nani Roma.

The notoriously tricky Fiambala dunes again proved to be tricky for erstwhile leader Sebastien Loeb, with the nine-time WRC champion dropping over 10 minutes after getting stuck twice. A storming drive after checkpoint two netted him the fifth fastest time, just over nine minutes in front of Giniel de Villiers in the leading Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux.

Like Sainz, the stage proved to be a nightmare for Nasser Al-Attiyah, as the Qatari effectively ended his hopes of a second win after rolling his Mini six kilometres into the stage. Getting stuck at kilometre 175 did nothing to improve his mood with the defending champion finishing the special 52 minutes behind Peterhansel.

Behind de Villiers, Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal took full advantage of the problems that befell the fancied teams to bring his Hummer home seventh, with a another Dakar newcomer, Brit Harry Hunt, taking his Mini to eighth place.

Tenth overall at the rest day, Argentine Emil Spataro also benefitted from the problems up front to clock the ninth fastest time in his South African-built Renault Duster, edging out Leeroy Poulter in the second Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux by three minutes.

In the overall standings, Sainz’s massive time loss sees Peterhansel take a commanding lead of one hour into today’s stage, with Al-Attiyah moving up to second despite the roll.

A further twelve minutes behind the Mini, de Villiers’ improved pace, in spite of having to change a broken driveshaft, moves his up to third place, 11 minutes in front of Mikko Hirvonen, and 21 minutes ahead of teammate Poulter.

Second place for Despres moves him up to sixth ahead of Roma and a rejuvenated Vasilyev, while Loeb re-enters the top ten in front of Hunt.

In the motorcycle section, KTM’s Stefan Svitko made history by becoming the first Slovakian competitor to win a stage on the Dakar; finishing two minutes 54 second ahead of Honda mounted Kevin Benavides.

Having lost over 30 minutes and all hope of victory after finishing the previous stage on a tow rope with a destroyed engine, a minor miracle by his Honda mechanics saw Paulo Goncalves cross the line fourth behind overall leader Toby Price, and ahead of KTM rookie Antoine Meo.

Navigational difficulties resulted in Pablo Quintanilla slipping back for the first time, with the Husqvarna rider however managing to edge out Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues by less than three minutes.

Continuing his impressive showing from stage nine, California native Ricky Brabec came home eighth with Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren and the KTM of Gerard Farres rounding out the top ten.

Overall, Price now leads Svitko by 23 min 12 secs with Quintanilla moving up to third as a result of Goncalves being slapped with a 39 minute penalty.

This elevates Meo to fourth, just under two minutes ahead of Benvadies, with Rodrigues now sixth and Brabec seventh. His penalty drops Goncalves to eigth and within striking distance of Farres and van Beveren.

Today’s stage sees the marathon special reaching its end with a 431 km run from La Rioja to San Juan.



1. Stephane Peterhansel Jean-Paul Cottret FRA / FRA Peugeot 32:44:59
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Matthieu Baumel QAT / FRA Mini +01:00:00
3. Giniel de Villiers Dirk von Zitzewitz RSA / GER Toyota +01:12:31
4. Mikko Hirvonen Michel Perin FIN / FRA Mini +01:23:51
5. Leeroy Poulter Rob Howie RSA / RSA Toyota +01:33:58
6. Cyril Despres David Castera FRA / FRA Peugeot +01:50:07
7. Nani Roma Alex Haro ESP / ESP Mini +01:50:25
8. Vladimir Vasilyev Konstantin Zhiltsov RUS / RUS Toyota +01:58:07
9. Sebastien Loeb Daniel Elena FRA / MON Peugeot +02:27:31
10. Harry Hunt Andreas Schultz GBR / GER Mini +02:28:41



1. Toby Price AUS KTM 34:49:04
2. Stefan Svitko SVK KTM +00:23:12
3. Pablo Quintanilla CHL Husqvarna +00:42:49
4. Antoine Meo FRA KTM +00:44:04
5. Kevin Benavides ARG Honda +00:45:10
6. Helder Rodrigues PRT Yamaha +00:56:17
7. Ricky Brabec USA Honda +01:12:08
8. Paulo Goncalves PRT Honda +01:14:45
9. Gerard Farres ESP KTM +01:15:09
10. Adrien van Beveren FRA Yamaha +01:21:55



IMAGE sourced from dakar.com