RACING NEWS

Top Dakar 2016 contenders struggle in closing stages

Top Dakar 2016 contenders struggle in closing stages image

Text: Anton Andres / Photos: Peugeot, Dakar | posted January 15, 2016 11:12

Troubles hit Sebastian Loeb and Carlos Sainz

After a dominant showing throughout this year's Dakar Rally, Sebastian Loeb struggled all throughout stage 8 where he found himself stuck in axle deep sand, followed by a roll over while traversing the dunes.

"What happened was there was a dip and I didn't see it," Loeb said upon finishing the stage. "We arrived on [the dip], fell in and it threw the car off balance - and we rolled. We broke a lot of things on the car. We had to change two wheels and change the transmission so, for sure, we lost a lot of time.", said Loeb. Despite that, Loeb was able to finish the race, now over two hours behind leader and fellow Peugeot 2008 DKR driver Stephane Peterhansel.

Despite the frustrations, Loeb says he will be doing his best to finish all of the stages of this year's Dakar Rally. The Dakar debutant adds,  "I still have to take the experience. We came here to get experience first and foremost.”

Carlos Sainz led the Dakar until mechanical problems struck

As the Dakar nears its finish, it wasn't just Loeb who experienced troubles in the final stages. Rally veteran Carlos Sainz suffered a rash of navigational and mechanical issues in stage 10.

Sainz got lost during the early parts of the stage which was followed by a punctured tire afterwards, costing the Spaniard valuable minutes. Despite that, Sainz set the pace yet again, leading the field by as much as seven minutes. Unfortunately for him, his bid for the Dakar win were ruined by transmission failure.

Stephane Peterhansel leads Peugeot

Now waving the flag for Peugeot is Stephane Peterhansel but not before running into some troubles himself. "We got lost at 32km and wandered around for at least 15 minutes. I blew a fuse because I thought I'd lost everything. We took risks and threw caution to the wind. We pushed very hard because we knew today was the decisive stage.” said Peterhansel.

The new leader added, “It was a stage with very tricky navigation, off-track sections, drainage channels and everything that makes rally raid hard. I had a flat tyre and started screaming my head off, I was a bit out of my mind today. However, when we got going, we were fast. We took a huge leap in the overall”. There was more drama after the stage with team X-Raid (Mini) filing a protest saying Peterhansel made an illegal fuel stop which was later denied by Dakar officials.

Peugeot Sport still maintains the overall lead in the Dakar, followed by Nasser Al-Attiyah, one hour behind in his X-Raid Mini Countryman. With the Peugeots of Loeb and Sainz out, Toyota's Giniel de Villiers moves up to third with the all-new Hilux rally raid car.