Stephane Peterhansel has given up on taking a 14th Dakar Rally victory this year, conceding that Peugeot team-mate Carlos Sainz can’t be caught over the final three stages. Peterhansel looked set to add to his remarkable tally of Dakar wins at the end of the first week, sitting a comfortable 27 minutes clear of Sainz heading into the La Paz – Uyuni stage.
However that seventh day of running proved to be a turning point for Peterhansel, his Peugeot buggy sustaining serious suspension damage while avoiding a stranded quad.
After having to wait for team-mate Cyril Despres to provide support and parts, Peterhansel dropped backed to third outright, an hour and 20 minutes behind new leader Sainz.
Peterhansel has since won two stages and moved back to second in the standings. However, with Sainz more than an hour ahead thanks to having his 10-minute penalty rescinded, the Frenchman says he’s given up his chase and would need to rely on a mechanical failure to win from here.
“Yeah, sure,” he said when asked if Sainz was too far ahead with three stages remaining.
“We have the same car, we are professionals – so to catch Carlos is really not possible. But this is a mechanical sport, so you never know.
“I’ll just defend my place because Nasser [Al-Attiyah] is only 20 minutes behind me.
“To try and take one hour in three stages is not possible, especially as the next stages are not dunes.
“Just to save the second place is not so bad, because after the… well not big accident, but the problem… we stopped for one hour and 45 minutes. So second place in this condition is not so bad.”
Dakar action resumes today with the 523-kilometre Fiambala/Chilecito – San Juan stage.