Loeb wins stage but Peterhansel close to Dakar triumph


Sebastien Loeb took his fourth stage win of the 2017 Dakar Rally on the penultimate stage - Credit: Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Sebastien Loeb took his fourth win of the 2017 Dakar Rally but was unable to make much inroads on the advantage of Peugeot team-mate Stephane Peterhansel, who looks on course for his thirteenth win of the legendary event.

The San Juan to Rio Cuarto stage saw a 292 kilometre timed section comprising of both off road challenges and traditional World Rally Championship-style tracks, and it was no surprise that Loeb was fastest, but it could have been so much better of a day for the Frenchman.

Loeb began the stage 5 minutes and 50 seconds adrift in the overall standings of Peterhansel, and having started 3 minutes behind his team-mate on stage, had finished the first section of the stage just 4 seconds behind, but it was almost a role reversal in the second part after a neutralised zone where Peterhansel was the faster of the two, meaning Loeb made just 18 seconds of time on the day.

Cyril Despres continues to make it a Peugeot 1-2-3 despite losing more than 7 minutes to Loeb on the stage, meaning he sits 32 minutes and 54 seconds behind Peterhansel with just one stage of the rally remaining.

Nani Roma and Giniel de Villiers compete the top five for Toyota, followed by X-Raid Mini duo Orlando Terranova and Kuba Przygonski.

In the bike standings, Sam Sunderland continues to hold the advantage at the head of the standings despite seeing Joan Barreda securing the stage win on Friday.

Paulo Goncalves had looked to have taken the stage win on his Honda, only to see officials hand his team-mate Barreda three minutes of time back, but despite a late stoppage that cost him several minutes, Sunderland still holds an almost unassailable advantage of 33 minutes and 9 seconds over KTM team-mate Matthias Walkner.

The closest battle for position is for the final spot on the podium, with Adrian van Beveren just 12 seconds ahead of Gerard Farres, with the former managing to overhaul the latter by taking third on stage.

Eduard Nikolaev moved closer to the Trucks class victory by taking a second consecutive stage win in his Kamaz, meaning he heads into the final day with an advantage of 17 minutes and 9 seconds over fellow Russian Dmitry Sotnikov.

Nikolaev finished just ahead of Federico Villagra on Friday, with the home driver remaining fourth in the overall standings behind Dutch driver Gerard De Rooy.