Cyril Despres and Peugeot Sport assumed the lead of the Dakar Rally during Sunday’s second stage, with the Frenchman leading a 1-2-3 for the French manufacturer through the sand dunes of Peru.
The 166-mile stage began and finished just outside the small town of Pisco, and despite Peugeot not appearing inside the top ten in the opening stage on Saturday, but throughout the day they were ahead of their rivals through every checkpoint, and it was Despres who set the best time of the stage of two hours, fifty-six minutes and fifty-one seconds.
The sand dunes seemingly gave Peugeot an advantage throughout the day, with defending Dakar champion Stephane Peterhansel finishing second fastest, just forty-eight seconds off the pace, while Sebastien Loeb made it three Peugeot’s at the head of the field, although the Frenchman lost three minutes and eight seconds to Despres.
Giniel de Villiers was the best of the rest for Toyota Gazoo Racing in fourth, but the South African was seven minutes and twenty-six seconds back, while team-mate and overnight leader Nasser Al-Attiyah suffered even more, losing fourteen minutes and fifty-one seconds, which was not helped by his co-driver Matthieu Baumel being ill.
Orlando Terranova was fifth fastest in the leading X-Raid Team Mini’s ahead of the fourth Peugeot of Carlos Sainz Sr., with another Mini in the hands of Mikko Hirvonen placing seventh ahead of Al-Attiyah, Martin Prokop (Ford) and Ronan Chabot (Toyota).
Despres now leads the field after two stages, twenty-seven seconds ahead of Peterhansel, and five minutes and forty-four seconds clear of de Villiers, while Al-Attiyah sits fifth behind Loeb.
Monster Energy Honda Team racer Joan Barreda dominated the second stage of the rally, with the Spaniard setting the best time of the stage of two hours, fifty-six minutes and forty-four seconds, almost three minutes better than his closest rival.
It is the nineteenth stage win of Barreda’s career, and despite early pressure from Yamaha’s French rider Adrien van Beveren, he ended up two minutes and fifty-four seconds clear, while the leading KTM was third in the hands of Matthias Walkner, four minutes and twenty-four seconds back.
Barreda’s team-mates Michael Metge and Kevin Benavides ended the stage in fourth and fifth respectively, with Pablo Quintanilla the leading Husqvarna rider in sixth ahead of defending winner Sam Sunderland, who went into the stage as leader but lost six minutes and one second to the stage winner.
Yamaha duo Xavier De Soultrait and Franco Caimi finished eighth and ninth respectively, while 2016 Dakar Rally winner Toby Price rounded out the top ten for KTM, but the Australian lost six minutes and forty seconds to Barreda.
Barreda now leads overall by two minutes and thirty seconds from van Beveren, with KTM team-mates Walkner and Sunderland third and fourth ahead of Quintanilla.
Chilean Ignacio Casale retained his lead in the Quads class on Sunday, as the Yamaha rider took his second consecutive stage victory, with the thirty-year-old setting the pace with a time of three hours, thirty-seven minutes and forty-five seconds.
He ended up forty-three seconds clear of fellow Yamaha racer and defending class champion Sergey Karyakain, but the rest of the field were well adrift of the pace.
Gastón González ended up third fastest, three minutes and fifty-four seconds back, with Yamaha taking nine of the top ten places on the day, with only fifth placed Kess Koolen breaking the pattern, with the Dutchman finishing behind Pablo Copetti.
Eduard Nikolaev took the stage victory in the trucks class, with the Russian setting a time of three hours, twenty-four minutes and twenty-three seconds in his Kamaz, three minutes and twenty-five seconds clear of his closest rival Federico Villagra of Iveco.
Tatra duo Aleš Loprais and Martin Kolomy placed third and fourth, albeit six and eleven minutes down respectively, while Iveco racer Ton van Genugten completed the top five.
Reinaldo Varela took victory on day two of the Dakar Rally in the UTV class, with the Brazilian setting a time of four hours, eighteen minutes and forty-four seconds in his Can-Am, eight minutes and fifty-nine seconds ahead of stable-mate Juan Uribe Ramos.
Patricie Garrouste was the best of the Polaris racers in third, but the Frenchman ended twenty-one minutes and fifty-seven seconds back, but he was almost half an hour ahead of fourth placed José Peña Campos, with Anibal Aliaga rounding out the top five.