TITLE NO.12 IN SIGHT: Can Stephane Peterhansel claim his 12th Dakar title in 2016? Image: AP
La Rioja, Argentina - Dakar Rally legend Stephane Peterhansel took a potentially decisive step towards a 12th title on Thursday's drama-filled 10th stage, which proved costly for Carlos Sainz.
Sainz started the demanding drive from Belen to La Rioja leading his Peugeot team mate Peterhansel by nine minutes.
But his hopes of victory were dashed when his Peugeot came to a grinding halt around 30km from the finish.
De Villiers in third
With three days of motorsport's toughest test remaining the veteran now has a handsome one hour cushion over his closest pursuer, last year's Qatari winner Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Mini.
In third comes South African Giniel De Villiers behind the wheel of a Toyota at 1hr 12min 31sec.
Nine-time world rally champion and Dakar rookie Sebastien Loeb lost valuable time when his Peugeot got stuck in the sand. Loeb finished the stage in fifth but is over two hours adrift overall.
'We had a terrible start'
Despite getting lost and suffering a puncture, Peterhansel was the day's big winner.
Peterhansel said: "We had a terrible start to the special. We got lost at km 32 and wandered around for at least 15 minutes.
"I blew a fuse because I thought I'd lost everything. Then I had a flat tyre and started screaming my head off, I was a bit out of my mind today.
"However, when we got going, we were fast. We took a huge leap forward in the overall."
He completed the 244km timed section in 3hr 58min 32sec, to beat his teammate Cyril Despres by 5min 40sec with Russia's Vladimir Vasilyev (Toyota) almost 13 minutes back in third.
2016 title in sight
Peterhansel lined up for his first Dakar in 1988, winning the first of his six overall victories on two wheels back in 1991 and taking his 11th victory behind the wheel of a Mini in 2013.
Wednesday's bike stage was won by Slovakia's Stefan Svitko on a KTM with his team mate Toby Price retaining the overall lead.
Price wrapped up victory in the ninth stage earlier Wednesday after its conclusion had to be held over from Tuesday because of extreme heat.
Price leads by over 23 minutes from Svitko with Honda's Paulo Goncalves in third over half an hour behind.
2016 Dakar Rally Stage 10 results:
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) 03:58:32
2. Cyril Despres (FRA) +00:05:40
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) +00:12:56
4. Nani Roma (ESP) +00:14:33
5. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) +00:17:40
6. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF) +00:26:16
13. Marek Dabrowski (POL) +00:43:35
14. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) +00:52:25
25. Kuba Przygonski (POL) +02:04:08
35. Carlos Sainz (ESP) +06:03:03
1. Stefan Svitko (SVK) 04:02:23
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG) +00:02:54
3. Toby Price (AUS) +00:05:47
4. Paulo Gonçalves (POR) +00:06:01
5. Antoine Méo (FRA) +00:07:43
7. Hélder Rodrigues (PRT) +00:12:01
18. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) +00:47:16
29. Iván Cervantes (ESP) +01:14:23
1. Pascal de Baar (NLD) 04:51:41
2. Gerard de Rooy (NLD) +00:02:36
3. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) +00:26:06
4. Hans Stacey (NLD) +00:27:25
5. Artur Ardavichus (KAZ) +00:31:29
7. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) +00:46:02
15. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) +03:30:44
16. Andrey Karginov (RUS) +03:36:36
1. Brian Baragwanath (ZAF) 04:53:30
2. Marcos Patronelli (ARG) +00:00:29
3. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG) +00:01:17
4. Sergei Kariakin (RUS) +00:17:42
5. Lucas Bonetto (ARG) +00:21:53
2016 Dakar Rally Overall Standings
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) 32:44:59
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) +01:00:00
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF) +01:12:31
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) +01:23:51?
5. Leeroy Polter (ZAF) +01:33:58
6. Cyril Despres (FRA) +01:50:07
9. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) +02:27:31
17. Kuba Przygonski (POL) +05:21:07
19. Carlos Sainz (ESP) +05:56:00
32. Marek Dabrowski (POL) +14:11:37
1. Toby Price (AUS) 34:49:04
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK) +00:23:12
3. Paulo Gonçalves (POR) +00:34:15
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL) +00:42:49
5. Antoine Méo (FRA) +00:44:04
7. Hélder Rodrigues (PRT) +00:56:17
19. Iván Cervantes (ESP) +03:58:57
23. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) +04:45:45
1. Gerard de Rooy (NLD) 33:25:03
2. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) +01:15:19
3. Federico Villagra (ARG) +01:32:47
4. Hans Stacey (NLD) +01:48:57
5. Ton van Genugten (NLD) +02:16:55
9. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) +03:55:20
11. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) +04:26:57
14. Andrey Karginov (RUS) +05:15:31
1. Marcos Patronelli (ARG) 43:23:21
2. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG) +00:01:32
3. Jeremias Gonzalez (ARG) +01:34:54
4. Sergei Kariakin (RUS) +01:35:49
5. Brian Baragwanath (ZAF) +01:41:38