Stephane Peterhansel continued his push for victory in the 2017 Dakar Rally as he beat team-mate Sebastien Loeb to a Stage 7 win.
The former motorcycle-rider beat the World Rally Championship legend by 48 seconds as he took his second stage win of the year. Giniel de Villiers came home fourth in his Toyota ahead of Mini’s Mikko Hirvonen.
Hirvonen had been looking to finish higher, but a puncture 8km from the finish caused by hitting a rock exiting a river bed saw him lose time as he finished the stage on the rim of his wheel.
Nani Roma leaped to third place in the overall standings with his fifth place finish on the stage gaining enough of an advantage over Cyril Despres.
“The lead is better than nothing.” said Peterhansel. “The overall classification is still very close, but it’s a really interesting race for everybody, I think. We’re still in the fight and that’s the most important thing”.
Ricky Brabec took stage victory in the bike class as the Honda rider beat experience team-mate Paulo Gonçalves to the finish. British rider Sam Sunderland took third place to consolodate his overall lead in class, pulling out more of an advantage over Pablo Quintanilla.
Sunderland said: “It was a lot harder a stage than we were expecting – there was a lot of navigation. I lost some time today because it was a sandy stage and the guys from the back can see the tracks cleanly. I’m really happy with everything on the bike. It’s the first stage of the marathon day and the tyres are good so we’ll just keep ticking along.”
In the quads Sergey Karyakin took his first stage victory of the year after finishing in the top seven of four of the first five stages. The result moves the Russian in to the overall lead ahead of Frenchmen Simon Vitse and Axel Dutrie.
Dimitry Sotnikov took his Kamaz truck to victory as he put the pressure on Gerard de Rooy, the result means he closes to within two minutes of the Dutchman’s Iveco in the general standings.