Racing resumed on Thursday with a 449-kilometre Stage 10 from Chilecito to San Juan in Argentina. Team Peugeot Total put on yet another impressive show in the car category, with Sébastien Loeb confirming his overall lead.
Stéphane Peterhansel led the race early on, before his collision with biker Simon Marčič forced him to stop. The 12-time Dakar winner helped rescuing him and waited for the medical team to arrive before resuming the stage.
It was Cyril Despres who finished the first section of Thursday’s stage the fastest, with Loeb trailing him by 6’28.
But it was Sébastien Loeb, who eventually took the line honours in San Juan. Having picked up the pace in the last part of the Special, he took his fourth stage victory this year, with Despres in second place (+2’33) and Peterhansel in third (6’45).
With two stages left, Loeb is now 8’23 ahead of Peterhansel, the defending champion, and 19’50 ahead of Despres, a former bike winner.
Overall car standings after Stage 10
HARO BRAVO (ESP)
|5.||302||DE VILLIERS (ZAF)
VON ZITZEWITZ (DEU)
A tricky stage in terms of navigation, and one that saw many favourites drive in the wrong direction.
Frenchman Michael Metge and Spaniard Joan Barreda took the first two spots, followed by Slovakian Stefan Svitko who collapsed of exhaustion shortly after the finish line. He’s now been taken to San Juan hospital.
KTM riders Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland finished respectively in 11th and 13th place, 13’48 and 18’01 behind Metge. Despite this poor result due to a navigation mistake at km 39, Sunderland is still leading overall.
“With so many riverbeds at the beginning it was tough to follow the correct one,” explained the British rider. “I made a few mistakes before the refuel and that got me stressed out because I didn’t know where the other bikes were. Then at the refuel there were only three bikes there so I knew my mistakes hadn’t been too costly.”
Pablo Quintanilla, who was second overall at the start of Stage 10, fell off his bike and has been diagnosed with a head trauma. As a result, Walkner climbs to second place in the general rankings, just under 30 minutes behind Sunderland.
“I’ve never finished the Dakar so to be here on Day 11 and to be leading is a dream come true,” added Sunderland. “To have my friend Matthias here with me as well is great because we have both worked hard and been through it a bit to get here.”
Overall bike standings after Stage 10
|3.||8||FARRES GUELL (ESP)||KTM||28:46:42||00:38:43||–|
|4.||6||VAN BEVEREN (FRA)||YAMAHA||28:49:56||00:41:57||–|
|5.||11||BARREDA BORT (ESP)||HONDA||29:01:46||00:53:47||01:01:00|
Chilean Ignacio Casale continued to fight his category leader Sergey Karyakin. The Russian set the pace today, but Casale hung on to eventually concede a little more than 10 minutes to his rival. There’s now 21’05 separating runner-up Casale and Karyakin.
Having won the truck title in 2013, Eduard Nikolaev of Team Kamaz Master proved he still got it after setting Thursday’s fastest time. The result sees Nikolaev leapfrog his Kamaz teammate Dmitry Sotnikov who finished second and now holds the runners-up spot in the general classification. Ayrat Mardeev came home third to give Kamaz a 1-2-3 result.