Uyuni, Bolivia: Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel won Monday’s Dakar Rally special after narrowly edging Peugeot teammate and compatriot Sebastien Loeb in the first part of the rain-hit seventh stage between La Paz and Uyuni in Bolivia.
Reigning champion Peterhansel was just 48 seconds faster over the 161km route but almost doubled his overnight lead in the overall standings on Loeb, to 1min 57sec.
The 2009 champion, South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, in his Toyota was third some 3mins 33sec behind Peterhansel over the special.
“It’s the second stage won on the rally. You take everything you can get. We’ll tally up the numbers after,” said Peterhansel, a record six-time Dakar winner in both the car and motorbike categories.
“It’s going to be a scrap but it was already like that last year. With Seb but also with Cyril [Despres], who isn’t far behind [fourth at 14min 01sec]. And then there’s Nani [Roma] who remains super quick and navigates well.”
Spaniard Roma, the 2014 winner and a former motorbike champion, is third overall at 11min 07sec in his Toyota.
American Ricky Brabec became the sixth different winner in as many stages in the bikes race as he finished close to two minutes ahead of Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves.
KTM rider Sam Sunderland was 4mins 43sec down on Brabec in third on the day, but the Briton remains the overall leader after gaining time on Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla. Sunderland is 17min 45sec clear of the Husqvarna rider.
Bolivia’s stages in the gruelling 9,000km race have been badly affected by the weather with Friday’s run from Tupiza to Oruro shortened, Saturday’s stage cancelled and Monday’s run cut from 320km to 161km after more torrential rain.
Organisers confirmed Tuesday’s stage — due to feature a 492km timed section — would also be altered slightly due to flooding that has left a section of the route impassable, shaving around 70km off the planned special.