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2012-01-04 22:56
<b>DUST BEDEVILLED:</b> Orlando Terranova slides h
Chilecito, Argentina – French Dakar Rally legend Stephane Peterhansel took the overall lead in the car section here on Wednesday after winning Stage 4, a 326km special from San Juan to Chilecito.

2012 Dakar image gallery.

The 46-year-old Mini driver, a six-times Dakar motorcycling champion and three-times car winner, endured a miserable previous day, Tuesday, when he had two punctures; on Wednesday it was the turn of Qatar's defending champion, Nasser al-Attiyah, and his Hummer to have a nightmare.


The 31-year-old's Hummer broke down 288km into the stage and only got going again after a 15-minute stop, leaving him seventh overall and more than a half-hour off the pace. While he fumed, Peterhansel came in 5min19sec ahead of Argentinian Orlando Terranova (pictured), while the latter's experienced fellow Toyota driver, South African Giniel de Villiers (pictured below), was third, 6min42sec behind.

He finished the day in second place overall in the rally.

Peterhansel, though, was not so happy that he had re-taken the overall lead: "I would have preferred not to lead the field on Thursday) since there will be no motorcycle tracks. It is not what I would have liked from a tactical point of view but I think the others made a lot of mistakes, so we will race at the front."

Defending motorcycling champion Marc Coma, 35, had earlier won the bikes stage, rebounding from a
poor Tuesday when he lost the overall lead. The KTM rider came in 2min02 ahead of main rival (and team mate) Cyril Despres who retained the overall lead with an advantage of 8min10sec over Coma.

Dutchman Frans Verhoeven, riding for Sherco, was third, but more than eight minutes off the pace. He finished second on Tuesday.

SCENERY LOOKS GOOD, SO DOES GINIEL! South Africa's Giniel de Villiers hasn't time to admire the stunning Argentine scenery as he blasts his SA-built Toyota Hilux to second place overall on Stage 4 of the 2012 Dakar Rally. Image: AFP

Coma had led triple motorcycling champion Despres by more than two minutes, but fell 10min behind him on Tuesday after taking the wrong route. "I tried to drive at a very high pace from the beginning, but it was difficult," Coma said. “I was able to overtake a few drivers and gain some time on Cyril - and Fiambala and many other stages still lie ahead.

“That’s the way things are right now. And I keep on fighting every day."

Despres said he had been content to play safe and restrict the damage done to his overall lead by Coma. He said of the Wednesday ride: "It was difficult because the rainfall in the region these last few days furrowed the tracks and exposed big rocks.

"Moreover, the heat makes it physically demanding to maintain a high pace. I’m quite happy with my performance.

"At the beginning I saw Marc surge ahead and I knew he would claw back some time but I focused on the navigation to avoid making mistakes."

Bookmark Wheels24’s Dakar Rally section.

Dakar Rally results after Wednesday's fourth stage, a 362km special from San Juan to here:
1 Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 4hr16min43
2 Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM +2min02
3 Frans Verhoeven (NED) Sherco +8min26
4 Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha +9min01
5 Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna +11min18
6 Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP) KTM +11min20
7 Alain Duclos (FRA) Aprilia +13min20
8 Stefan Svitko (SVK) KTM +13min42
9 Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia +14min15
10 David Casteu (FRA) Yamaha +15min23

1 Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM 11hr50min27
2 Marc Coma (ESP) KTM +8min10
3 Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha +26min48
4 Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia +29min50
5 David Casteu (FRA) Yamaha +30min37
6 Paulo Goncalvez (POR) Husqvarna +35min16
7 Frans Verhoeven (NED) Sherco +37min48
8 Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP) KTM +38min19
9 Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM +44min00
10 Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) KTM +4424

1 Peterhansel (FRA) Mini 3hr49min33
2 Terranova (ARG) Toyota +05min19
3 De Villiers (SA) Toyota +06min42
4 Roma (ESP) Mini +07min35
5 Holowczyc (POL) Mini +10min51
6 Sousa (PRT) Great Wall +11min40
7 Wevers (NLD) Mitsubishi +13min17
8 Vos (SA) Toyota +13min49
9 Spinelli (BRA) Mitsubishi +14min11
10 Novitskiy (RUS) Mini +14min13
1 Peterhansel (FRA) Mini 9hr43min20
2 De Villiers (ZA) Toyota +05min41
3 Roma (ESP) Mini +06min44
4 Holowczyc (POL) Mini +08min10
5 Gordon (USA) Hummer +16min23
6 Novitskiy (RUS) Mini +26min35
7 Al-Attiyah (QAT) Hummer +30min44
8 Sousa (PRT) Great Wall +30min45
9 Alvarez (ARG) Toyota +33min11
10 Wevers (NLD) Mitsubishi +36min42

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