Reigning Dakar Rally champion Stephane Peterhansel beat Peugeot teammate Cyril Despres to top the eighth stage of the marathon’s 2018 edition.
Peterhansel was lower than usual in the starting order, having lost his overall lead on Saturday when he spent over an hour and a half at a standstill with suspension damage.
On Sunday, he recovered a small chunk of the lost time, recording his second stage win of this year’s Dakar in the 498km timed special between Bolivian cities Uyuni and Tupiza.
Despres, 45 hours down in the general classification after opening-week travails, challenged Peterhansel throughout the day but had to do with runner-up, 49 seconds off the pace.
Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah was best of the rest behind the Peugeot duo and did enough to hold off Peterhansel in the battle for second place in the general classification.
The Qatari was top of the timesheets at the first two waypoints, but ended up two minutes adrift – with another seven still separating him and Peterhansel in the overall standings.
Al-Attiyah’s teammates Bernhard ten Brinke and Giniel de Villiers traded places in the general classification, the latter dropping down to fifth after losing over 20 minutes on the day.
Having inherited a sizeable lead on Saturday, Peugeot driver Carlos Sainz paced himself through the stage as he opened the road, finishing seven minutes down on his stage-topping teammate.
With Monday’s test called off due to inclement weather, the Spaniard will head into the closing five-day stretch of the marathon with a lead of one hour and seven minutes.
Sotnikov scores stage win for Kamaz
Dmitry Sotnikov became the second Kamaz driver to top a stage in the 2018 Dakar, setting the pace on the 381km timed route for the truck class.
Sotnikov took the lead from Martin Kolomy at the third waypoint and never relinquished it, finishing five minutes ahead of nearest rival Federico Villagra (De Rooy Iveco).
Overall leader Eduard Nikolaev gave up three minutes to Villagra, his lead over the Argentine down to 46 minutes with five stages left to run.