Lima - Sebastien Loeb took his second successive stage win of the Dakar Rally in Peru on Sunday while Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux driver Nasser Al-Attiyah stretched his overall lead to more than 37 minutes.
Frenchman Loeb moved up from fifth to second overall with his third stage win of the event in a privately-entered Peugeot, pushing compatriot and 13-times Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel down to third.
Loeb, a nine-times world rally champion who has yet to win the Dakar in three previous attempts, crashed out last year on the same stretch of terrain but he said he had "dodged the bullet" this time.
Peterhansel, in a Mini Buggy, lost 18 minutes and 49 seconds to Loeb in the 310km sandy sixth stage from the city of Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona, and is 41 minutes adrift of Toyota driver Al-Attiyah.
"I saw Nani (Roma) stuck five kilometres from the finish. He didn't signal for help, but after he helped me out two days ago, I felt it was my duty to rush to his aid," said Peterhansel.
"As a result, I got stuck in a sand basin and lost 20 minutes. It wasn't a mistake, it was a real blunder. Victory's slipping away after too many mistakes."
De Villiers soldiers on
South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers finished the stage in a solid eighth place, having run in fourth position for most of the race and then losing time due to tricky navigation towards the end of the stage. He currently sits in 18th position overall, 6h48m behind the leader, due to last week’s maladies.
SA rookie Shameer Variawa (Red Lined Nissan Navara) stopped late in the stage with a broken gearbox, and we are awaiting further feedback on his situation.
Quintanilla takes two-wheel lead
Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla took the lead in the motorcycle standings from American Ricky Brabec, now four and a half minutes behind, after winning the stage.
Britain's 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland dropped from second to seventh after losing nearly 23 minutes to the leader during the stage.
Botswana’s Ross Branch and South Africa’s Kenny Gilbert finished 18th and 28th respectively, and currently sit in 17th and 23rd in the overall rankings. No-service crew Original class rider Stuart Gregory is currently 75th overall.
Sources: Reuters, Motorsport Media & Dakar.com