Peugeot continued to dominate the 2016 Dakar Rally through the weekend’s stages. Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz shared the stage wins on Friday and Saturday, while Sebastien Loeb still holds the lead going into the second week.
Loeb’s stunning debut almost came unstuck on Friday, when he was delayed with a puncture and a sticking throttle which relegated him to fourth, allowing Peterhansel to grab the top spot. But finishing second to Peter’s fourth on the next stage was enough to retake the lead, albeit with a slim two minute advantage.
Thus far, Peugeots have won all but the Prologue stage, a remarkable record for the Dakar.
Behind the Peugeot podium lock-out, 2015 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah looks increasingly out of touch in his Mini, over 17 minutes in arrears. Ex-WRC man Mikko Hirvonen continues to impress on his Dakar debut, lying fifth after setting a string of top ten times.
The Finn will have to spend the second week looking in his mirrors for veteran Giniel de Villiers, who heads a trio of works Toyotas. Vladimir Vasilyev is ninth in his privateer Toyota and tenth-placed Emiliano Spataro leads the local drivers in his Renault Duster.
Briton Harry Hunt is another driver making a fine debut, holding 13th place in his Mini, an hour and a half off the lead.
Honda rider Paulo Goncalves maintains his hold on the bike category, while Alejandro Patronelli heads the quads after early leader Ignacio Casale crashed out. Oddly, the trucks looks like most unpredictable category as the expected Kamaz charge has yet to materialise; Pieter Versluis currently leads in his MAN.
There’s still a very long way to go, with six stages remaining travelling down through Bolivia and back in Argentina, heading for the finish in Rosario on Saturday.
Dakar Rally top ten runners after 7 stages
- Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — 21:46:28
- Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — +2:22
- Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz — Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot 2008 DKR — +4:50
- Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel — Axion X-Raid Team/Mini ALL4 Racing — +17:36
- Mikko Hirvonen/Michel Perin — Axion X-Raid Team/Mini ALL4 Racing — +32:53
- Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz — Toyota Gazoo Racing South America/Toyota Hilux — +33:41
- Leeroy Poulter/Robert Howie — Toyota Gazoo Racing South America/Toyota Hilux — +40:19
- Yazeed Alrajhi/Timo Gottschalk — Toyota Gazoo Racing South America/Toyota Hilux — +42:51
- Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov — G-Energy Team/Toyota Hilux — +53:49
- Emiliano Spataro/Benjamin Lozada — Renault Duster Team/Renault Duster — +1:15:45
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By Only Motors