January 20, 2018 / 12:22 AM / 2 months ago

Sainz on the brink of Dakar Rally triumph for Peugeot

(Reuters) - Spaniard Carlos Sainz was one stage away from winning the Dakar Rally on Friday but Peugeot’s hopes of a one-two finish in Argentina disappeared after reigning champion Stephane Peterhansel hit trouble.

Dakar Rally - 2018 Peru-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 40th Dakar Edition stage thirteen, San Juan to Cordoba - January 19, 2018. Carlos Sainz of Spain and co-pilot Lucas Cruz of Spain drive their Peugeot. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Sainz, father of the Renault Formula One driver of the same name, ended the penultimate 13th stage from San Juan to Cordoba with a lead of 46 minutes and 18 seconds over Toyota’s Nasser al-Attiyah.

With only 120km of timed special stage remaining around Cordoba, Sainz’s second Dakar victory looks assured in what will be a fitting farewell for Peugeot’s works team in their final appearance.

The Spaniard took no risks on Friday’s marathon 929km stage, which was dominated by al-Attiyah, who took his fourth stage win of this year’s rally. Sainz finished 19 minutes and 37 seconds behind the Qatari.

Peterhansel, a 13 times Dakar winner on bikes and cars, had started the day second overall but clipped a tree with his front left wheel on a bend that was hidden by a bump.

The impact broke a steering rod, with the support team carrying out repairs once he was out of the timed zone, and also left the Frenchman with a sprained thumb.

The delay meant he lost about an hour and fell behind al-Attiyah in the standings.

Toyota’s Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke retired with mechanical problems.

In the motorcycle category, Austrian KTM rider Matthias Walkner ended the day with a 22 minute lead over Argentina’s Kevin Benavides on a Honda.

Australian Toby Price, the 2016 winner, took his second successive stage win.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Greg Stutchbury

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