Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel doubled his lead in the Dakar Rally to almost seven minutes on Tuesday after an eventful fourth stage that claimed last year's motorcycle victor Sam Sunderland. He lost two hours waiting for assistance before continuing but, with co-driver Daniel Elena in pain from the jolt in the dunes, had to accept defeat.
For 2018 the team have brought in a new vehicle in the form of the Mini John Cooper Works Buggy and after the second day of action, the Finn is sitting in seventh position, just behind Team Peugeot Total driver Carlos Sainz Sr.
The nine-time World Rally Champion led for the majority of the 330km special stage which looped around San Juan de Marcona to eventually see off Carlos Sainz by 1m35s for the stage victory, while overall leader Peterhansel in third ended the day 3m16s off of Loeb.
With the WRC legend ruled out, his Peugeot teammates Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz were left standing as the two frontrunners in the auto class, and it was the former who bolstered his chances with a strong time through Wednesday's test.
Ten Brinke not only recorded a perfectly clean stage, but also kept pace with the leading Peugeot of Stephane Peterhansel over terrain that was much more suited to the buggy. Walkner finished second in stage 5 while Benavides finished third.
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"At the first dunes, we went into a big hole and got stuck for 30 minutes, before it happened a second time".
"Luckily the stage was divided into two sections", said Al-Attiyah, "and we were able to catch up with our technical crew between the sections". Oriol Mena continued his fine form of yesterday to begin the stage well but lost some time in finding a waypoint in the later part of the stage.
TreasuryOne Volkswagen Amarok privateer Hennie de Klerk enjoyed a positive day in the sand, bringing it home 37th for the day to move up one place to 33rd overall, while navigator Rob Howie was 16th after guiding Lucio Alvares home.
The fourth stage of the rally camped itself in San Juan De Marcona for one more day of dunes and navigation.
Reigning bikes champion Sunderland dropped out of this year s race with a back injury and was taken to Lima for medical checks, allowing Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren to take the overall lead after winning Tuesday s fourth stage. He gained over 40 positions on his overnight ranking of 98, to finish the stage and overall at 56th place.