Peugeot driver Carlos Sainz moved into the lead of the Dakar Rally after taking victory in a shortened Stage 9 on Tuesday.The stage, one of the shortest of the rally, started and ended in Belen, with the original plan including a total of 285km timed and 111km in connections.However, due to the extreme heat, organisers decided to stop the running at the fourth waypoint.
“Today’s stage was expected to be difficult given the profile of the special,” organisers said. “The dunes around Fiambala and the hot temperatures promised a tricky day for the competitors.
“These concerns soon proved to be true and, in light of the high number of competitors already in difficulty, in particular in the bike category, the race management have taken a logical decision.
“In order to guarantee maximum safety to the entire field, the race will finish at CP2.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah hit the front at the first control point, outpacing Toyota’s Leeroy Poulter by 11 seconds and Mikko Hirvonen by 27 as leader Stephane Peterhansel finished nearly two minutes behind and Sainz lost over three to the Qatari.
By Waypoint 3, however, Peterhansel had lost over 11 minutes to Al-Attiyah and around seven to Sainz.
But the Spaniard, second in the standings until today, sped up towards the finish and moved into the lead, finishing with a time of 2h35m31s at the point where the stage was neutralised due to the heat.
Mini’s Erik Van Loon was a surprising second, only 10 seconds slower than Sainz, with debutant Mikko Hirvonen third in another Mini, 27 seconds off the pace.
Peterhansel, slowed down by punctures, finished the day nearly nine minutes behind Sainz, who now leads the rally by seven minutes over the Frenchman.
Al-Attiyah wound up fifth, behind the Toyota of Giniel de Villiers. The reigning champion remains third in the standings, some 14 minutes off the lead.
Top ten overall provisional
Dakar Bikes, Stage 9: Goncalves woes give Price commanding lead
Toby Price stretched his Dakar Rally lead to almost 25 minutes in a shortened marathon stage, as closest rival Paulo Goncalves ground to a halt with mechanical problems.
The Portuguese rider, who lost the lead on Monday after suffering a crash from which he emerged unscathed, stopped at the second waypoint with radiator problems, effectively ending his challenge for victory.
His demise gives KTM factory rider Price, who sealed a fifth stage win of the event with a dominant performance on a stage that was cut short due to high temperatures, a healthy advantage overall.
The Australian beat Kevin Benavides (Honda) by 7m10s on the day at the fourth waypoint, where the results were declared, and now has 24m47s in hand over Stefan Svitko (KTM), who finished the stage third, 10 minutes down.
Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla claimed fourth for the day, and moves up to third overall as a result of Goncalves’ demise – 32m down on the lead, and less than a minute clear of Benavides.
Price’s teammate Antoine Meo moves up to fifth, ahead of Yamaha factory rider Helder Rodrigues, KTM privateer Gerard Farres and lead works Honda rider Ricky Brabec, who jumps from 11th to eighth.
Yamaha now has three bikes in the top 10 following a shuffle lower down the order, with Adrian van Beveren and Alessandro Botturi benefitting from Sherco pair Joan Pedrero and Alain Duclos both losing ground.