Peterhansel ‘Still Smiling’ Despite Losing Dakar Lead After Hitting Rock

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Credit: Eric Vargiolu / DPPI

Stephane Peterhansel revealed he did not see the rock that has derailed his chances of claiming a fourteenth Dakar Rally victory, but he still remains upbeat and third overall, one hour, twenty minutes and forty-six seconds off of Peugeot Sport team-mate and new leader Carlos Sainz Sr.

The Frenchman had been more than twenty-seven minutes ahead of Sainz heading into the stage, but hitting the rock cost him significant time, and if it wasn’t for team-mate Cyril Despres stopping to aid the repairs and switching some of his parts onto Peterhansel’s car, it could have been an even worse day in Bolivia than it ultimately turned out to be.

Peterhansel revealed the extent of the damage to the rear of the car, but says the biggest hit was to their morale, although there will be more work to be done to the car overnight to try and return the car to its previous set-up, although he will have to do it without the aid of his mechanics as they are forbidden to assist during the stay at the Uyuni bivouac.

“I came out of the tracks a little bit, I’m not sure why, and I didn’t even see the rock; I just felt the impact,” admitted Peterhansel. “It destroyed the whole of the rear of the car: shock absorbers, suspension, transmission, the lot.

“There’s still a lot to do tonight: the car isn’t what it was. We took some parts off Cyril’s car and left him there; we were about 1h50m fixing it.

“We’ve got no physical damage to ourselves and we feel fine, it’s just our morale that’s been hurt. But I’m still smiling; my career’s not on the line here after all.”

Despres was forced to wait for the assistance truck to enable his Peugeot to resume the rally after gifting Peterhansel parts of his car to allow his fellow Frenchman to continue, particularly as he himself is out of overall contention for the victory.

“We saw Stéphane and Jean-Paul [Cottret, co-driver] at km186,” said Despres.  “The rear of their car was completely broken.

“We stopped and did our best to help them on the mechanic, and to allow them to quickly go back to racing. Then we had to wait the assistance truck to re-start as well.”

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