Dakar 2017: Battle of the French continues
Stéphane Peterhansel and Sébastien Loeb still setting pace at Dakar Rally 2017.
Sebastien Loeb of Team Peugeot Total races during stage 07 of Rally Dakar 2017 from La Paz to Uyuni, Bolivia on January 09, 2017 (Image: Reuters)
Following Saturday’s cancelled stage and Sunday’s rest day, the riders and drivers were back in action on a modified 161 kilometre special route, the first half of this year’s marathon stage.
Due to the persistent bad weather, a new course mainly taking place on sandy terrain was designed from Bolivian capital La Paz to Uyuni with the competitors separated from their mechanics and having to repair their vehicles alone for the first time.
318 vehicles started the race one week ago, with only 110 bikes, 25 quads, 72 cars and 48 trucks still trying to make it to the finish line. Who will prevail?
12-time winner Peterhansel enjoyed himself on the sand to get the better of a high level duel with Loeb and edge his second stage of the race.
The French Team Peugeot duo pushed each other all the way with Peterhansel taking it by just 48 seconds, ensuring he keeps a slender advantage from his compatriot at the top of the overall leaderboard.
Giniel de Villiers in the Toyota Hilux placed third with Nani Roma taking advantage of a tough day for Cyril Despres to finish fourth and sneak onto the virtual podium of the Dakar.
Peterhansel said: “It was small stage, but it was very interesting. There was a lot of navigation and it wasn't easy. It was a little bit easier for me, because there were two cars in front of me and some tracks to follow, but we were doing good with the navigation already. There were some small dunes. They weren't really complicated, but with the altitude we don't have a lot of power. The overall classification is still very close, but it's a really interesting race for everybody, I think. We're still in the fight and that's the most important thing.”
Another day, another different winner in the exciting bike category. Ricky Brabec this time took the honours by clinching Stage 7 from teammate Paulo Goncalves.
The American overturned an 18 second deficit to Goncalves after 90km to end up winning with a gap of one minute and 44 seconds.
KTM Factory Team rider Sam Sunderland still sits at the top of the standings after placing third but he had a scare 38km in after stopping in the sand dunes, 300 metres away from the correct route before recovering and limiting his losses.
Sunderland said: “It was a lot harder a stage than we were expecting – there was a lot of navigation. All in all, it was OK. I lost some time today because it was a sandy stage and the guys from the back can see the tracks cleanly. We'll just keep ticking along. The bike's working well, the boys did a good job yesterday. I'm really happy with everything on the bike. It's the first stage of the marathon day and the tyres are good so we'll just keep ticking along. So far, so good.”
Sergey Karyakin won his first stage in 2017 to take command of the general classification on his Yamaha.
The Russian has been consistent all race but finally picked up the elusive stage win with an assured performance to see off Axel Dutrie. Ignacio Casale had another solid day to finish third and keep himself right in the mix.
The trucks are still in the process of completing the stage. Check back later for further information.
Race footage available for download, daily show on Red Bull TV and more - check out our extensive coverage of the Dakar 2017
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