Lima - French rally legend Sebastien Loeb powered to a fourth stage win in the Peruvian dunes in his Peugeot on Tuesday's Stage 8, while Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar came a step closer to overall victory by coming second.
Despite a flat tyre at top speed in the opening kilometres, Loeb clinched the San Juan de Marco to Pisco stage with a margin of 7m27s on Al-Attiyah, with Pole Jakub Przygonski third at 15m15s.
In the overall ranking Al-Attiyah now stands 46 minutes ahead of second-placed Nani Roma of Spain with two stages to go.
“We are really happy with our performance today,” said Al Attiyah after bringing the Hilux home to the bivouac. “It was tough out there, but the car was absolutely perfect, and we didn’t make any serious mistakes. The team did an amazing job to prepare the car for us, and we hope to repay them by bringing home the big trophy.”
His team-mate, South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers finished the stage in a solid fourth place, and continues to play a support role to Al Attiyah. He currently lies 10th overall, just over seven hours behind the leader.
South Africa’s Shameer Variawa (SVR Red Lined Nissan Navara) had not appeared on the results page at the time of writing, but managed fifth in the Marathon class on Monday’ Stage 7.
Brabec’s broken dream
Honda rider Ricky Brabec's hopes of becoming the first American to win a Dakar Rally disappeared in the Peruvian sands on Tuesday after an engine failure forced him to retire while leading.
Australian Toby Price took over at the top of the motorcycle standings on a KTM, leading Chilean Pablo Quintanilla by just over a minute after the sandy eighth stage from San Juan de Marcona to Pisco.
"My wrist is on fire now, so it’s been a long stage, 360km, but we’ve made it here to the finish and there’s just two more to go - this is a good thing," said Price, who was racing with a wrist injury.
"There’s times when you can rest it and when you can’t, but it’s just difficult."
Brabec, who also retired last year with an engine breakdown, had started the day with a lead of seven minutes and 47 seconds but his participation ended in bitter disappointment just 56km down the road.
On the local front, Botswana’s Ross Branch and South Africa’s Kenny Gilbert, finished the stage 15th and 22nd respectively, the pair sitting 13th and 21st overall. No-service crew Original class rider Stuart Gregory is currently in 78th overall.
Two stages to go
Wednesday’s penultimate stage of Dakar 2019 is a looped section of 313 km, which will see the competitors start and finish near the bivouac at Pisco.
Sources: Reuters, Motorsport Media, Toyota SA & Dakar.com