Peterhansel could miss Dakar podium due to mechanical woes

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Cordoba (Argentina), Jan 20 (IANS) French driving great and seven-time Dakar Rally car champion Stephane Peterhansel (Peugeot) is in jeopardy of missing out on a podium spot this year after suffering mechanical problems in the penultimate stage.

Peterhansel suffered the mishap during the 369-kilometre (229-mile) timed portion of the 13th stage on Friday between the Argentine cities of San Juan and Cordoba, reports Efe.

Friday’s special included a dune-filled portion and a section with gravel roads that is used for the annual Rally Argentina event.

Peterhansel was stranded for nearly 45 minutes while waiting for teammate Cyril Despres to provide him with mechanical assistance.

Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah (Toyota), who started the day in third place, more than 20 minutes behind Peterhansel, had a strong run after overcoming a breakdown that cost him 10 minutes at the start of the stage and has taken over second place in the general classification, based on the latest update on the Dakar Rally’s Web site.

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Spain’s Carlos Sainz (Peugeot), who led Peterhansel by more than 44 minutes after the 12th stage, was reaping the benefits of a conservative race strategy on Friday.

Having thus far avoided the snags that befell his main rivals, the Spaniard currently leads al-Attiyah by a whopping 57 minutes and 35 seconds.

Peterhansel, who holds the record for most Dakar titles in the both the car (seven) and bike (six) categories, has dropped to fifth place in this year’s event, 1:31:49 behind Sainz.

Dutchman Bernhard ten Brinke (Toyota) is leading the 13th stage and has moved up to third overall, but he still trails Sainz in the general classification by 1:07:22.

–IANS

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