Peterhansel Increases Lead On Hazardous Dakar 5th Stage
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia: Stephane Peterhansel increased his overall lead in the Dakar Rally on a treacherous fifth stage won by Giniel de Villiers on Thursday.
Peterhansel held off Nasser Al-Attiyah, who won the previous three stages, by more than two minutes over the 456-kilometer (284-mile) special between Riyadh and Al Qaisumah in eastern Saudi Arabia.
The Frenchman, the record seven-time champion in cars, was third on the stage, followed by Al-Attiyah, and led the Qatari overall by more than six minutes.
It was not beautiful landscape and not nice to drive, but it was a really selective stage like it always is on the Dakar, Peterhansel said.
In third was defending champion Carlos Sainz, one of many who made a navigation error early. Sainz lost 13 minutes and fell 48 minutes behind the overall pace. Nobody else was within an hour of the lead.
De Villiers reminded the race of his skill in leading the stony stage with tough dunes in the second half. The 2009 champion and seven-time podium finisher managed a slow puncture brilliantly and came home a minute ahead of a fellow South African, Brian Baragwanath. But de Villiers improved in the overall to only two hours behind Peterhansel.
Henk Lategan started the stage fourth overall but crashed after 20 kilometers, broke his collarbone, and was airlifted to a Riyadh hospital. Mathieu Serradori started sixth overall and also fell out of contention when he broke down for four hours.
Sainz and Sebastien Loeb, the nine-time world rally champion, also went off course. Loeb started with a five-minute time penalty, lost 30 minutes getting back on course, 10 more minutes in the race, and dropped behind by 1 hour, 40 minutes.
Motorbike riders were also not immune to navigation problems in the first 80 kilometers. The list included Joan Barreda (started second overall), Pablo Quintanilla (10th), Adrien van Beveren (11th), Daniel Sanders (14th), and Franco Caimi (18th). Only Sanders and Caimi improved their positions.
Kevin Benavides of Argentina won the stage and took the overall lead, the sixth different leader in six days. Benavides crashed jumping a dune and broke his nose, his helmet and his GPS, and still prevailed.
“There was a lot of pain today. But its like that, this is the Dakar, Benavides said.
Jose Ignacio Cornejo was second on the stage, and Lorenzo Santolino third. They rose into the top six.
Xavier de Soultrait dropped from leader to second overall, 2 1/2 minutes back, followed by Cornejo, two-time champion Toby Price, 2017 champ Sam Sunderland, and Santolino, who had to abandon his previous two Dakars.
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