Dakar veteran Stéphane Peterhansel showed that experience counts on stage six of the 2016 Dakar Rally as he took stage victory and also moved in to the overall lead of the rally ahead of his Peugeot compatriots.
Peterhansel beat Carlos Sainz to stage victory by seventeen seconds while previous rally leader Sébastien Loeb dropped to second place overall as he lost over eight minutes to the stage victor.
“It was a long stage and it’s always hard to stay concentrated over such a length of time,” said Peterhansel. “But it went well: we didn’t encounter any navigation problems or punctures, so everything is fine. It’s still mainly a clear track to follow, there’s not much real off-road stuff.
While the Frenchman moves in to the lead of the rally he remains grounded, “Our car is still very new and we’re certainly not out of danger from technical problems. It happened to Cyril yesterday, and it could happen to any other of the three of us as well.”
Spaniard Sainz was happy with his day in the office as he finished as runner-up, “It was a good stage. Our car worked well, with no problems, but we had to drive for 200 kilometres in the dust of Sébastien’s car. It was tricky but everything else went well. This was a very long stage but luckily it wasn’t particularly hot. Obviously there are the effects of altitude here, but personally I didn’t have any problems with that.”
Loeb had a frustrating time on the stage as he suffered a puncture and mechanical issues, “We had a puncture at kilometre 100 and then our accelerator pedal stuck open. We had to slow down using the circuit breaker! Afterwards I hit a rock, which meant that we had to change a wheel. It was a tricky day, but that’s how it is sometimes.
“We still have three Peugeots at the front, so the team is dominating. Generally it’s gone well up until today, where we lost out quite notably. So everything is reset at zero now and we have to start again. But the feeling is good and the car is working well. We don’t have any particular problems.”
Yazeed Alrajhi rounded out the top three stage times in his Toyota Hilux while Nasser Al-Attiyah finished the stage in fourth place to consolidate his fourth place overall.
“The longer stage was nothing special,” said Al-Attiyah. “We tried to finish without any problems. We did a good job but are lacking a little speed compared to some competitors. But it is okay and we try to keep our position at number four and at least we are at the front of all the other 4×4. If we can be in the top three soon it would be fantastic for us.”
Team mate Mikko Hirvonen finshed in eighth place as he moved up a position in the overall standings to sixth place, “It was a long day,” said the Finn. “We are quite happy that we didn’t have any problems, not even a puncture or anything. It was a bit more difficult to read the road than yesterday. I was not so confident to have a big attack. The car is in one piece and we are feeling ok so it wasn’t so bad. I’m happy with the way things are going. Maybe I’m a bit too careful, but that helps us not to have any problems.”
World Rally Championship regular Martin Prokop finished the stage in twenty second position as he dropped down the overall standings by two places.
In the Bike category it was Australian Toby Price who took the stage victory once again and he hunts down the Honda of Paulo Goncalves, while Hans Stacey moved back in to the lead of the Trucks with another stage win. Marcos Patronelli topped the times for the Quad Bikes to move in to the lead overall.