Carlos Sainz Sr. secured his first stage victory of the 2018 Dakar Rally on Thursday, and despite being twenty-seven minutes and ten seconds off the rally leader Stephane Peterhansel, he feels there is still enough time and distance to take the fight to his Peugeot Sport team-mate.
For the first time in the rally, terrain conditions favoured the veteran Spaniard, and he stormed to the stage win between Arequipa in Peru and La Paz in Bolivia by four minutes and six seconds.
Sainz believes the opening six stages of the 2018 event have had too much running in sand, but he still has hope that he can close the gap to thirteen-time winner Peterhansel and fight for his second Dakar Rally victory to add to his 2010 triumph whilst with Volkswagen.
“From the start of the rally we’ve been off-piste in the sand and that’s not my favoured sort of terrain,” said Sainz. “So even if there were a lot of straights today and it wasn’t so exciting it’s nice to have a change…five days of sand is too much.
“There’s still a lot of racing left, with stages that are 400 or 500 kilometres long, as well as the marathon stage, so anything can happen.”
Sainz reiterated his thoughts that the stages in Peru were perhaps too tricky, particularly for the amateur racers, but he is happy that his Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi has been competitive throughout.
“The first week has been quite tricky,” admitted Sainz. “Maybe a little bit too tricky, especially for the amateur drivers, who have really struggled.
“Nonetheless, I’m happy with second place and to have won a stage yesterday. It’s still possible to fight for victory. The PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi has been very competitive. With the marathon stage starting on Saturday, and Belen and Fiambala still to come, anything can happen.
“My goal, first and foremost, is to bring the car home safely to bivouac every night.”