Carlos Sainz Sr. increased his Dakar Rally lead as Bernhard Ten Brinke beat all of the Peugeot’s to set fastest time in stage 11.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver set a time of 4 hours 10 minutes and 54 seconds outpacing the trio of closely matched Peugeot’s on a largely uneventful stage for the car runners.
Cyril Despres was second fastest 4 minutes 35 seconds slower than Ten Brinke followed by Sainz and Stephane Peterhansel, who all set times within 15 seconds of each other.
Although Sainz was only 10 seconds faster than main rival Peterhansel, the announcement that his controversial 10 minute penalty for an incident involving quad bike rider Kees Koolen would be rescinded, increased his lead to 1 hour.
Sainz was relieved to get to the end of what has been a bogey stage for the Spaniard in the past.
“It was demanding and difficult,” the two-time WRC Champion said.
“I have lost two rallies on this stage and had many problems, in 2009 I was leading and finished in a hole so I was happy to finish.”
In the standings the three Toyota Gazoo Racing Hiluxs make up the top five, with Nasser Al-Attiyah heading the trio ahead of team-mates Ten Brinke and Giniel de Villiers.
The top 10 was rounded out by Jakub Przygonski (MINI), Khalid Al Qassimi (Peugeot) Martin Prokop (Ford), Peter Van Merksteijn (Toyota) and Sebastian Halpern (Toyota).
Rally leader Matthias Walkner‘s commanding lead became even more secure when main rival Joan Barrera retired from the rally.
The Spanish Honda rider had been competing with a damaged knee since Saturday but 100km into today’s stage, he requested medical assistance and proceeded to the medical outpost in Fiambala a few kilometres away and retired.
The Spaniard’s retirement means that Honda team-mate Kevin Benavides has become Walkner’s closest challenger and the Argentinian rose to the challenge by setting the stage’s second fastest time, but is still 32 minutes behind the Austrian KTM rider.
Toby Price made up for yesterday’s costly navigational error by taking his first stage win of the rally, which saw moved him up into third place.
Price said: “It wasn’t the result we wanted yesterday and today we needed to claw back a bit of time, which we have done. There is still a long way to go.”
Long time rally leader Eduard Nikolaev no longer holds the Truck category lead, as early morning problems saw Federico Villagra take over at the head of the leaderboard.
Nikolaev lost over 40 minutes during the stage and that was enough for Iveco trucker Villagra to snatch the lead of the category, albeit a small one of 1 minute 7 seconds over the Kamaz trucker.
MAZ trucker Siarhei Viazovich took his maiden stage win to cement his third place but he is more than three hours behind the top two.
Local Yamaha rookie rider Nicolás Cavigliasso stormed to a second consecutive stage win in his home country, setting a time 15 minutes quicker than rally leader Ignacio Casale.
Despite having to give best to Cavigliasso for the second day in a row, Casale still holds a comfortable 1 hour 34 minute lead over the Argentine rookie with fellow Argentine Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli rounding out the podium.
Patrice Garrouste continued his pursuit of rally leader Reinaldo Varela with another stage win which sees the gap between the two drop to 44 minutes.
Brazilian driver Varela was 3 minutes 40 seconds slower than Garrouste with just three stages left to run.
Third place man, former leader Juan Carlos Uribe Ramos is now over a hour behind the lead battle.