HOLDING THE LEAD: Peugeot driver Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean Paul Cottret, race during Stage 11 of the 2016 Dakar Rally, between La Rioja, and San Juan, Argentina. Image: AP / Jorge Saenz
San Juan, Argentina - French driver Stephane Peterhansel was happy to concede a little time on the speedy 11th stage on Thursday as he retained the Dakar Rally lead and closed in on a record-extending 12th victory.
Peterhansel finished the 431km special between La Rioja and San Juan eight minutes behind stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, but still a healthy 52 minutes up on his nearest rival and the defending champion.
'It's never over'
Despite only two days of racing left, Peterhansel wasn't thinking of victory yet.
Peterhansel said: "If you have 10 minutes, two minutes or one hour (in hand), and you have a big technical problem, then you're stopped, and it's finished for the overall victory. It's never over. I've had some good experiences like that, but also some bad experiences."
He only had to consider Peugeot team mate and former champ Carlos Sainz. The rally leader before Wednesday's (January 14) demanding stage, he suffered numerous problems before breaking an adaptor plate to the gearbox, forcing his withdrawal for a fourth straight year.
Al-Attiyah flew over the sand, pebbles, gravel and rios for his second stage win of the rally, six minutes ahead of Sebastien Loeb, who stalled just short of the finish line and got a tow from team mate Cyril Despres. Al-Attiyah's Mini team mate, Mikko Hirvonen, was seven minutes behind in third.
Al-Attiyah cut some time off Peterhansel's lead, and another past winner, Giniel de Villiers of South Africa, remained third overall but dropped six minutes to be 78 minutes behind.
Price maintains lead in bike section
Toby Price of Australia increased his lead in the motorbike class by 12 minutes to 35 minutes over Stefan Svitko, who struggled. Price, determined to win the Dakar at his second attempt, was second on the stage, only 18 seconds behind Antoine Meo of France.
The bike leaders finished the stage, but organizers eventually stopped it at the second checkpoint, about 190km from the finish, because the 40-degree heat was putting a large number of riders in difficulty.
2016 Dakar Rally Stage 11 results
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) 04:49:16
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) +00:05:52
3. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) +00:07:01
4. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) +00:08:05
5. Yazeed Alrajhi (SAU) +00:11:57
7. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF) +00:12:58
8. Cyril Despres (FRA) +00:14:51
12. Kuba Przygonski (POL) +00:26:50
22. Marek Dabrowski (POL) +00:59:07
30. Adam Malysz (POL) +01:43:53
1. Antoine Méo (FRA) 05:19:08
2. Toby Price (AUS) +00:00:18
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL) +00:02:48
4. Hélder Rodrigues (PRT) +00:12:01
5. Adrien van Beveren (FRA) +00:12:09
9. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) +00:25:29
16. Iván Cervantes (ESP) +00:35:57
1. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) 05:31:37
2. Pieter Versluis (NLD) +00:05:02
3. Ton van Genugten (NLD) +00:05:36
4. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) +00:07:51
5. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) +00:09:38
15. Andrey Karginov (RUS) +01:21:34
1. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG) 06:20:15
2. Brian Baragwanath (ZAF) +00:01:06
3. Marcos Patronelli (ARG) +00:01:26
4. Sergei Kariakin (RUS) +00:17:49
5. Jeremias Gonzalez (ARG) +00:28:56
2016 Dakar Rally overall standings
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) 37:42:20
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) +00:51:55
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF) +01:17:24
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) +01:22:47
5. Leeroy Polter (ZAF) +01:46:36
7. Cyril Despres (FRA) +01:56:53
9. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) +02:25:18
17. Kuba Przygonski (POL) +05:39:52
30. Marek Dabrowski (POL) +15:02:39
48. Adam Malysz (POL) +25:23:05
1. Toby Price (AUS) +00:00:18
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK) +00:35:23
3. Antoine Méo (FRA) +00:43:46
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL) +00:45:19
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG) +00:57:05
6. Hélder Rodrigues (PRT) +01:02:01
12. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) +03:45:13
19. Iván Cervantes (ESP) +04:26:49
1. Gerard de Rooy (NLD) 39:10:29
2. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) +01:09:21
3. Federico Villagra (ARG) +01:45:45
4. Ton van Genugten (NLD) +02:08:42
5. Pieter Versluis (NLD) +02:46:27
8. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) +03:41:31
10. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) +04:22:46
15. Andrey Karginov (RUS) +06:23:16
1. Marcos Patronelli (ARG) 49:36:00
2. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG) +00:00:08
3. Brian Baragwanath (ZAF) +01:41:15
4. Sergei Kariakin (RUS) +01:51:18
5. Jeremias Gonzalez (ARG) +02:02:13