Stephane Peterhansel is looking increasingly¬†on course to take his 12th and Peugeot’s fifth Dakar Rally wins after a dramatic Stage 10 shook up the order and handed him a big lead.

Though relatively short, the run through the dunes from Belen to La Rioja claimed some front-running scalps. First to fall was Nasser Al-Attiyah who rolled his Mini only a few miles into the stage. He was able to limp to the finish in 14th place, having lost more than 50 minutes.

Peterhansel’s teammate Carlos Sainz was the day’s other major casualty, his 2008 DKR suffering a broken engine/gearbox adaptor plate. The two-time WRC champion was forced to stop and wait to be towed out of the stage by an assistance truck. A full inspection at the bivouac revealed the damage was worse than first thought and Sainz had to retire from the event.

There was better news for Peugeot, though, as former bike winner Cyril Despres finished the stage second – his best result yet in a car – five minutes behind Peterhansel. Vladimir Vasilyev led the Toyotas, coming third, and Nani Roma brought his Mini home in fourth to salvage something from an off-form stage for the once dominant X-Raid team.

There was more to cheer lower down the order as British Mini man Harry Hunt had the best day so far of his Dakar debut. He finished the day eighth, just enough to nudge into the top ten overall.

Peterhansel now has an advantage of exactly one hour in the standings over Nasser Al-Attiyah, a comfortable lead but three stages remain and, as Stage 10 showed, he can’t afford to take anything for granted in the remaining three stages.

On the bikes, a stage win by Stefan Svitko wasn’t enough to unseat Toby Price from the lead. Likewise, Brian Baragwanath’s success in the quads hasn’t disrupted the battle between the Patronelli brothers who are virtually neck-and-neck at the top, Marcos holding just a 90 second advantage. And Renault driver Pascal de Baar took surprise win in the trucks, but Gerard de Rooy’s hour-and-a-quarter lead is starting to look unassailable.

Dakar Rally Stage 10 top ten finishers

  1. Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — 3:58:32
  2. Cyril Despres/David Castera — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — +5:40
  3. Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov — G-Energy Team/Toyota Hilux — +12:56
  4. Nani Roma/Alex Haro Bravo — Axion X-Raid Team/Mini ALL4 Racing — +14:33
  5. Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — +17:40
  6. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz — Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa/Toyota Hilux — +26:16
  7. Miroslav Zapletal/Maciej Marton — Offroadsport/Hummer H3 — +27:46
  8. Harry Hunt/Andreas Schulz — ALL4 Racing Team/Mini ALL4 Racing — +34:25
  9. Emiliano Spataro/Benjamin Lozada — Renault Duster Team/Renault Duster — +34:30
  10. Leeroy Poulter/Robert Howie — Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa/Toyota Hilux — +37:56

Dakar Rally top ten runners after 10 stages

  1. Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — 32:44:59
  2. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel — Axion X-Raid Team/Mini ALL4 Racing — +1:00:00
  3. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz — Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa/Toyota Hilux — +1:12:31
  4. Mikko Hirvonen/Michel Perin — Axion X-Raid Team/Mini ALL4 Racing — +1:23:51
  5. Leeroy Poulter/Robert Howie — Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa/Toyota Hilux — +1:33:58
  6. Cyril Despres/David Castera — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — +1:50:07
  7. Nani Roma/Alex Haro Bravo — Axion X-Raid Team/Mini ALL4 Racing — +1:50:25
  8. Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov — G-Energy Team/Toyota Hilux — +1:58:07
  9. Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — +2:27:31
  10. Harry Hunt/Andreas Schulz — ALL4 Racing Team/Mini ALL4 Racing — +2:28:41

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By Only Motors