A day after losing the lead of the Dakar Rally, Stephane Peterhansel took his second stage victory of the event on Sunday, but Carlos Sainz Sr. stayed out of trouble to consolidate his lead.
After suspension damage and a long stoppage on Saturday, normal service resumed for Peterhansel and for Peugeot Sport, who saw the Frenchman lead team-mate Cyril Despres to a one-two finish on the stage, with the duo forty-nine seconds apart.
Sainz finished down in fifth in the third Peugeot, losing seven minutes and four seconds to his stage-winning team-mate, but he still holds an advantage of one hour, thirteen minutes and forty-two seconds over Peterhansel, who remains third in the standings behind Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Al-Attiyah also managed to edge himself closer to Sainz by finishing third on the day, two minutes and twelve seconds down on Peterhansel, while his Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team-mate Bernhard ten Brinke brought his car home in fourth, five minutes exactly slower than the class winner.
Orlando Terranova was the leading X-Raid Mini finisher on Sunday, bringing his car home in sixth, ten minutes down on Peterhansel, with team-mate Jakub Przygonski seventh ahead of Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi (Peugeot), Giniel de Villiers (Toyota) and Martin Prokop (Ford).
Sainz is now one hour, six minutes and thirty-seven seconds clear of Al-Attiyah in the overall standings, with the next day of rallying set for Tuesday following the cancellation of Monday’s ninth stage due to inclement weather conditions in the area.
Antoine Meo secured a second stage victory in three days for KTM, but the battle for overall honours between Adrien van Beveren and Kevin Benavides closed up considerably, with only twenty-two seconds separating the duo overall.
Ricky Brabec was Meo’s closest challenger at the end of the day, with the Monster Energy Honda Team rider finishing one minute and eight seconds off the pace, while Australian Toby Price made it two KTM’s inside the top three, a further one minute and thirty-seven seconds down on Brabec.
Benavides placed his Honda into fourth place, five minutes and fifty-two seconds down on Meo, but more importantly for the Argentine rider, two minutes and fifty-two seconds ahead of van Beveren, who finished the stage seventh for the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team.
Stefan Svitko ended fifth fastest on the day for KTM ahead of Matthias Walkner, who remains in third place overall but with a deficit of six minutes and thirty-four seconds on van Beveren, while the Frenchman, Joan Barreda (Honda), Gerard Farres Guell (KTM) and Laia Sanz (KTM) completed the stage inside the top ten.
Simon Vitse became the sixth different winner in just eight stages on Sunday, with the Frenchman claiming his maiden stage victory by three minutes and twenty-seven seconds.
The Yamaha rider finished ahead of another Yamaha rider in the form of Marcelo Medeiros on Sunday, with the Brazilian denying overall class leader Ignacio Casale second place by one minute and fifty-three seconds.
Alexis Hernandez lost his second place after losing two hours, thirteen minutes and forty-seven seconds on the day, falling down to sixth overall as a result, with Argentine rider Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli now second overall, albeit one hour, forty-five minutes and twenty-seconds down on Casale, while rookie Nicolas Cavigliasso sits third, another three minutes and fifty-nine seconds back.
Russian racer Dmitry Sotnikov took his first stage win of the 2018 Dakar Rally on Sunday, with the Kamaz driver ending five minutes and eleven seconds clear of Argentine racer Federico Villagra of Iveco.
With Eduard Nikolaev finishing fourth, it meant Villagra was able to eat a little more into the Russian’s advantage overall, but he still has a deficit of forty-six minutes and twenty-five seconds with just five stages of the rally remaining.
Ahead of Nikolaev on the day was fellow Kamaz racer Airat Mardeev, who finished six minutes and twenty-eight seconds behind Sotnikov, while Czech racer Martin Kolomy completed the top five for Tatra.
Reinaldo Varela took his fourth stage win of the rally to further cement his advantage at the top of the class, with the Brazilian finishing eighteen minutes and fifty-five seconds ahead of Juan Carlos Uribe Ramos on Sunday to extend his lead to one hour, thirty-four minutes and thirty-one seconds over the Peruvian racer.
Leo Larrauri finished third for Can-AM, forty-eight minutes and nine seconds down on Varela, while Patrice Garrouste was only thirty-three seconds further back in fourth to consolidate his third place in the rally.