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2016-01-10 11:26

DOMINATING DAKAR: Peugeot's Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz claimed victory on the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally. Image: AFP / Jorge Saenz

Salta, Argentina - Carlos Sainz claimed victory on the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally with Peugeot team mate Sebastien Loeb reclaiming the overall lead on a rain-lashed day which saw the gruelling event suffer another tragedy.

Sainz triumphed on the 817km run from Bolivia's famed salt flats at Uyuni to Salta in Argentina, beating Loeb by 38 seconds with defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Mini finishing third, 3min 22sec back.

For the dominant Peugeot team, it was a sixth consecutive stage win on this year's race, its 38th edition.

'We're in the lead'

Nine-time world rally champion Loeb leads the overall standings with a 2min 22sec advantage over fellow Peugeot man and 11-time Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel who was fourth Saturday, 3min 27sec off the stage pace.

Sainz is 4min 50sec off the overall lead in third spot.

Loeb, with the race taking a break on Sunday, said: "We're in the lead and that's what counts. I didn't expect to be in the lead on the rest day. 

"We'll make the most of it. We'll have to work hard the next few stages. The next three stages are packed with pitfalls, they're tricky, but we'll try and do our best. Our only strategy is to attack a lot and post solid times."

Tragedy hits the Dakar

However, the action was overshadowed by the death of a 63-year-old man who died when he was involved in a collision with a car driven by French competitor Lionel Baud.

Statement from the organisers said: "An accident occurred at the 82km mark of the day on Bolivian territory when competitor 409 Lionel Baud collided with a 63-year-old man who had become isolated on the track."

This year's Dakar had already got off to a dramatic start when a car driven by Chinese duo Guo Meiling and Min Liao smashed into a group of spectators watching the prologue in Buenos Aires.

It left 10 people injured of which three were seriously hurt.

In 2010, in the second year of the race taking place in South America after it left Africa, a 4x4 piloted by the German-Swiss pair of Mirco Schultis and Ulrich Leardi was involved in a crash which left a 28-year-old female spectator dead.

The following year, there was another fatality at Chilecito in Argentina.

Saturday's seventh stage had been held up due to violent thunderstorms which led to the motorcycle event being curtailed for the day.

When the stage was halted for the competitors on two wheels, Antoine Meo of France on a KTM had been the quickest.

Australia's Toby Price was fifth, also on a KTM, which allowed him to take the overall lead with a 6min 12sec advantage.


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