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Stephane Peterhansel secured his first stage win of the 2019 Dakar Rally, while the hopes of his X-raid Mini team-mate Carlos Sainz were practically ended on the event’s third stage.
As he recovered from dropping 20 minutes on Tuesday after making a “rookie error”, 13-time Dakar champion Peterhansel took command of Wednesday’s 331km San Juan de Marcona-Arequipa stage early on.
After crossing the second waypoint tied with Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, Peterhansel steadily pulled clear of the pack over the remainder of the stage, ultimately winning by 3m26s over his rival.
He therefore climbed from 13th place in the overall standings to third.
Giniel de Villers had led after Tuesday’s stage, but the Toyota driver stopped 172km into the Wednesday’s run and is currently yet to finish.
Al-Attiyah now leads overall by 6m48s over the best of the X-raid Mini entries, the 4×4 being driven by Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who was fourth on Wednesday’s stage behind Kuba Przygonski.
Nani Roma lies fourth in the overall order after dropping 18 minutes, followed by Przygonski in fifth.
Stage two winner Sebastien Loeb endured a much tougher time as he opened the road in his PH Sport-run Peugeot and dropped 42 minutes to countryman Peterhansel.
As a result, Loeb is now eighth overall.
Sainz’s hopes of defending his 2018 title evaporated when he broke his buggy’s front-left suspension just 39km into the stage and almost losing a wheel.
He was stopped for three hours and 15 minutes, and is set to drop a long way down the leaderboard.
Cyrill Despres, the other Mini buggy driver, is sixth overall, followed by Toyota’s Bernhard ten Brinke, who conceded more than half an hour to the leaders after starting the day second behind de Villiers.