Peterhansel consolidates the lead
Peugeot’s French Dakar superstar Stefan Peterhansel maintained the overall lead of Dakar 2018 for the third day on the trot by winning the fifth stage on Wednesday, but all was not well with his Peugeot teammates. Sebastien Loeb lost two and three-quarter hours stuck in the sand and Carlos Sainz lost over 18 minutes on his winning teammate today, but the Spaniard still gained a place to move into second overall, 31 minutes off Peterhansel, in spite of his tardy stage today.
The Toyotas benefited today, with Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke ending up second on the stage, 4 minutes 32 behind Peterhansel and ahead of South African star Giniel de Villiers, Sainz and Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah. The Gazoo Toyota Hiluxes now sit third, fourth and fifth overall, with ten Brinke ahead of Al Attiyah and de Villiers and the trio of SA-built bakkies split by just 23 minutes, making for an interesting race between them going forward.
Orlando Terranova enjoyed a positive day to slot his Mini into sixth ahead of Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, who was among those to thrive in the tough early going — the same sandy desert conditions that caught out today’s big loser, Sebastien Loeb. Yesterday’s winner, Loeb was among a dozen cars to get stuck in the sand shortly after the start, but he took considerably longer than the rest to escape.
Of other South African interest, TreasuryOne Volkswagen Amarok privateers, Pretoria Dakar rookie crew Hennie de Klerk and Gerhard Schutte enjoyed a positive day in the sand, bringing it home 34th for the day to provisionally sit in 30th overall on wednesday evening, while navigator Rob Howie was provisionally 16th after guiding Argentine Alvares home.
On two wheels it was Spain’s Joan Barreda Bort who delivered a crushing performance to dominate the day’s bike stage as he took his Honda to a 10 minute 26 second victory over KTM rider, Austrian Matthias Walkner. Frenchman Kevin Benavides was third on another Honda a further two minutes adrift with KTM rider Alex Meo, the Yamahas of Adrien van Beveren and Marquis Xavier de Soultrait and 2017 winner Toby Price’s KTM next up.
Barreda’s performance has catapulted him back into the sharp end of the overall top ten - the Honda rider now sits fourth, just 7 minutes off leader van Beveren, with Benavides second from Walkner and de Soultrait a close fifth.
South African David Thomas brought his Husqvarna home a fine 48th, while Donovan van de Langeberg wended up 59th, and Willem du Toit 79th.
There was drama in the quad stage when 2017 winner Sergey Kariakin crashed out of second, leaving Ignacio Casale untroubled in the overall lead. Casale consolidated his now significant overall lead by coming home second today behind Argentine Verza.
The Dakar leaves Peru and the desert on Thursday and heads into the mountains with a break along the way to cross the border to Bolivia on the shores of Lake Titicaca en route to La Paz, where Dakar takes its traditional rest day on Friday.