Stephane Peterhansel secures 50th Dakar stage win

Stephane Peterhansel secures 50th Dakar stage win

The second stage saw Dakar Rally legend Stephane Peterhansel secure his historic 50th career victory, while his Audi teammate Carlos Sainz Sr. took the overall lead in the cars category.

Stéphane Peterhansel has won fourteen races altogether, on two and four wheels, making him the most accomplished racer in Dakar Rally history. He tied Ari Vatanen for the record for most Dakar stage wins in a car on Sunday as he secured yet another significant achievement.

On the Dakar tracks, the man from Vesoul is still defying the numbers and after a thrilling battle with Sébastien Loeb’s Hunter, the Audi driver won his second stage victory with the German manufacturer and his first in two years.

On Saturday, Peterhansel had a rough start to his 35th entry in Dakar after getting a number of punctures that held him 30 minutes behind the lead.

However, with fewer stones on the 464-kilometer stage between Al Henakiyah and Al Duwadimi, the 14-time Dakar winner took the lead and overcame Prodrive’s Sebastien Loeb by a mere but decisive 29 seconds.

The Frenchman had already gotten well ahead of the pack at the first checkpoint, which was located at 41 kilometers. He thereafter progressively extended his lead to more than a minute over the trailing group, which was led by Yazeed Al-Rajhi in the Overdrive Toyota.

Factory Toyota driver Seth Quintero unexpectedly overtook Peterhansel for the lead after jumping from third 167 kilometers into the stage, but the Audi driver managed to regain the lead at the next checkpoint.

Nine-time World Rally champion Loeb put tremendous pressure on Peterhansel in the second half of the stage, closing the gap to just five seconds at the 342 km point. However, in the last sprint to the finish, Peterhansel was able to extend his lead once more earning his first stage win in Dakar since 2022.

“For sure, it’s much better than yesterday because at the end, it’s not really complicated to be much better than yesterday,” Peterhansel said.

“But first of all, we took pleasure to drive because the the track was not too much destroyed, not too much rocks. It made it really fun to drive the car.

“The setting of the car is really good. To take victory of a stage is always nice.”

Loeb’s Prodrive squad recovered from a dismal first day at Dakar, finishing more than two minutes ahead of Quintero’s Toyota in second place, despite not having the pace to challenge Peterhansel in the final 100 kilometers of the stage.

Loeb’s teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah, entered the day as Peterhansel’s closest rival but fell back to 11th at the second checkpoint. However, he eventually steadily moved up the field to finish a strong fourth. With over eight minutes lost between checkpoints two and three, the Qatari driver’s closing margin behind Peterhansel was 6m28s.

Home favorite Al-Rajhi outperformed teammate Guerlian Chicherit by less than two minutes, finishing fifth and sixth respectively for Overdrive Toyota.

Mattias Ekstrom, who won the prologue, finished seventh in the factory Audi as the Swede fell behind his more seasoned teammate Peterhansel by more than fifteen minutes. Sainz finished eighth, a minute behind while Toyota’s Lucas Moraes and Martin Prokop with MP-Sports rounded out the top ten.

Guillaume de Mevius, who prevailed on Saturday, had a somewhat lackluster day in Saudi Arabia; at the end of the day, he was ranked provisionally 19th, giving the leaders 26 minutes advantage. After the second of the 12 stages, De Mevius’ uneventful drive helped propel Sainz to the top of the overall standings, with the Spaniard 1m51s ahead of Al-Rajhi.

Loeb moved up to third in the standings after his outstanding performance on Sunday, requiring just 4 minutes and 17 seconds to catch up to new leader Sainz. Quintero, who is ahead of de Mevius and Ekstrom, is leading the Toyota factory team in fourth place.

Peterhansel’s stage win only got him to ninth in the standings, behind Moraes’ Toyota, while five-time winner Al-Attiyah still has a 12-minute gap behind the lead in seventh place.

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