Sainz takes lead of Dakar Rally after Peterhansel crashes
UYUNI, Bolivia (AP) Carlos Sainz took advantage of teammate Stephane Peterhansel's crash to win a second successive stage of the Dakar Rally and take the overall lead on Saturday.
Peterhansel, the defending champion, began the seventh stage in southern Bolivia with a 27-minute lead on second-placed Sainz.
After a rest day on Friday, Peterhansel left La Paz in a hurry, and was fastest until 129 kilometers into the speedy 425-kilometer dirt route to Uyuni, when he crashed. By the time the French rally great repaired the left rear wheel, suspension, and radiator in his Peugeot, he was 1 hour, 45 minutes behind Sainz, who was nearly at the finish.
Sainz beat home Giniel de Villiers, the 2009 champion who has finished top five in the last seven races, by 12 minutes, and two-time champion Nasser Al-Attiyah by 14 minutes.
Overall, Sainz led Al-Attiyah by 1 hour, 12 minutes, and Peterhansel by 1 hour, 21 minutes.
But at the halfway point of the world's toughest rally, Sainz won't be feeling confident. The 2010 champ from Spain has failed to finish the last five Dakars because of crashes or mechanical problems. He was leading two years ago.
In the motorbike category, Joan Barreda dominated, flying on his Honda through every checkpoint. But in winning his third stage of the race by almost three minutes, the Spaniard believed he broke a knee.
"I started the stage all guns blazing and everything was going well, but around kilometer 300 I went off-track and had a nasty fall," Barreda said. "I think I broke my knee, and from then the pain made me slow down. It's looking really bad. I'm sure it's broken, my knee is out of whack, and I can't even put my foot on the floor."
Adrian van Beveren, second home, regained the overall lead by three minutes over former leader Kevin Benavides, who was third on the stage. Barreda was five minutes off the pace.
Updated January 13, 2018