Tuesday’s 205-mile special stage pushed the Dakar Rally racers and their machines to the limit on the route around San Juan de Marcona in Peru.
In the toughest physical day of the rally so far, the leaderboard was shaken with many pre-race favorites coming into difficulty.
Wednesday sees bikes and quads take a separate route from the cars and trucks. After a 155-mile plus special stage, they will meet again in Arequipa.
For full detailed results, click here.
WRC legend Sebastien Loeb (pictured) enjoyed a first stage win of the year after going toe to toe with Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz for most of the day.
The trio of Team Peugeot Total drivers opened up huge gaps as they managed to avoid any major mishaps – unlike teammate Cyril Despres, who broke a wheel and suffered suspension damage on his 3008DKR Maxi.
After getting back into contention yesterday, disaster struck for Nasser Al-Attiyah who lost more than 30 minutes to the leaders.
Loeb said: “On WRC stages you lose two minutes sometimes; here you can lose 30 or more, so it is very different. We are doing a good job at the moment though.”
2017 champion and overnight race leader Sam Sunderland suffered a dramatic exit to the race toward the end of the stage as he was evacuated by helicopter from the route.
Severe back pain which required a hospital visit put an end to the British rider’s hopes and enabled Adrien Van Beveren to take a commanding stage win ahead of Xavier de Soultrait and Matthias Walkner.
Walkner, who is now third in the overall standings, said: “I lost a lot of time and had many crashes in the soft dunes. It was really hard and a crazy day.”
Sergey Kariakin ended the early Ignacio Casale dominance for the first time this race to beat the Chilean by 43 seconds and claim a first stage win. The Russian still trails Casale by 25 minutes overall.
Eduard Nikolaev strengthened his grip on the race with another impressive drive in the Kamaz Master. He left the rest of the field to fight it out in the desert, finishing 27 minutes before his closest rival Federico Villagra.