Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel (Bahrain JCW Mini X-Raid Team, photo above) claimed his third Dakar Rally stage win since the start last week in Jeddah, edging Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah by just 15 seconds after a grueling 550-mile run (including a 250-mile special) from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh.
“Today it was, again, a stage with full attack,” said Peterhansel. “This morning, the tracks were really rough and more twisty — a little bit like in Morocco. After, it started to be really fast. We made no mistakes at all with the navigation. (In the three stages remaining) we’ll try to keep the pressure on the leader.”
Although disappointed to miss out on a first stage win by just 15 seconds, Al-Attiyah was consoled by moving to within 24s of Car class general standings leader Carlos Sainz.
“It was good because the buggy is fast, “Al-Attiyah explained. “We tried to do our best and today I think we did a really good stage. I’m quite happy to close the gap with Carlos, but (for the rest of the rally) we’ll see. I think tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will be very, very difficult for everybody. It looks like the (top) three cars are very close together. For all three of us, it is possible that any one can win the Dakar”.
Sainz had a problematic day but did retain his overall lead: “On the first part we lost time when we lost the way – we lost five minutes or something like that. After that, the tread came off (a) tire and we had to stop. It wasn’t like a puncture; it was more the lamination of the tire. It was not a good day for us.”
Third, meanwhile, as on Stage 3, was Yasir Seaidan (Race World Team Mini) who finished 4m48s behind Peterhansel — another solid performance from the Saudi driver.
With just 24 seconds separating Sainz and Al-Attiyah, and with Peterhansel just 6m38s behind the general standings leader, it is anyone’s race in the Car category. Dakar’s final three days promise much suspense…