PEUGEOT VICTORY: Peugeot driver and Dakar race leader Stephane Peterhansel (left) chats with Sebastien Loeb at the 2017 Dakar Rally. Image: AFP / Frank Fife
Ro Cuarto - France's Stephane Peterhansel won his 13th Dakar Rally title on Saturday, saying the latest win was the sweetest following an epic battle with French Peugeot team mate Sebastien Loeb.
The 51-year-old Peterhansel added the 2017 title to his previous six wins on four wheels and his six on two, the first coming in 1991 on the world's toughest rally.
Peterhansel said: "This victory is particularly sweet because the competition was so high. Battling Sbastien and finishing just a few minutes ahead, it's no mean feat."
Heartbreak at the Dakar
Sam Sunderland became the first Briton to win the motorbike section after the heartbreak of being forced to retire from two previous editions.
The KTM rider secured victory after the 12th and final 64km special from Rio Cuarto and Buenos Aires.
Peterhansel and nine-times world rally champion Loeb dominated the gruelling two-week car race winning eight stages between them with the former taking three and the later five.
Peterhansel finished 5min 13sec ahead of Loeb in the overall standings with third-placed Cyril Despres at 33min 28sec handing Peugeot their first podium sweep since 1990, before the French car maker withdrew from the race to return in 2015.
Despres also won a stage for Peugeot who grabbed control from the second stage leaving rivals Toyota and Mini with no chance.'Better next year'
The race turned into a two-horse battle between Peterhansel and 42-year-old Loeb, who was competing for the second time after finishing ninth in 2016.
"Such a tight Dakar to the finish line we haven't seen in a longtime," said Peterhansel, who first competed in 1988 before winning in 1991.
Loeb added: "We gave it everything, held nothing back. We had a beautiful race. Second this year, we'll have to do better next year."
Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah -- winner in 2011 and 2015 -- was forced out in the fourth stage after badly damaging his Toyota with Spaniard Nani Roma and South Africa's Giniel de Villiers finishing fourth and fifth respectively for the Japanese manufacturer.
Earlier Sunderland became the first Briton to win the motorbike section after the heartbreak of being forced to retire from two previous editions.
The 27-year-old Dubai-based Briton entered the 2012 and 2014 Dakar rallies but retired each time with mechanical problems.
Sunderland took the race lead after the fifth stage, handing KTM their 16th win in a row.
The 2016 winner, Toby Price of Australia, pulled out of this year's race during the fourth stage.
The gruelling 9,000km rally had been plagued by torrential rain in Bolivia with stages six and nine cancelled and a further three shortened, cutting a third off the original course.
Final overall standings in the Dakar Rally following Saturday's 12th and final stage between Rio Cuarto and Buenos Aires:
1. Stphane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) 28h 49min 30sec
2. Sbastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (FRA/MON/Peugeot) at 5min 13sec
3. Cyril Despres/David Castera (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) 33min 28sec
4. Nani Roma/Alex Haro Bravo (ESP/ESP/Toyota) 1h 16:43
5. Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) 1h 49:48
6. Orlando Terranova/Andreas Schulz (ARG/GER/Mini) 1h 52:31
7. Jakub Przygonski/Tom Colsoul (POL/BEL/Mini) 4h 14:47
8. Romain Dumas/Alain Guehennec (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) 4h 24:01
9. Conrad Rautenbach/Robert Howie (ZIM/RSA/Toyota) 4h 40:13
10. Mohammed Abu-Issa/Xavier Panseri (QAT/FRA/Mini) 4h 53:30
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR/Ktm) 32hr 06:22
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT/Ktm) at 32min 00sec (pnalty 5:00)
3. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP/Ktm) 35:40
4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA/Yamaha) 36:28 (penalty 1:00)
5. Joan Barreda (ESP/Honda) 43:08 (penalty 58:01)
6. Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) 52:29 (penalty 48:20)
7. Pierre Alexandre Renet (FRA/Husqvarna) 57:35
8. Franco Caimi (ARG/Honda) 1h 42:18. (penalty 1h 05:00)
9. Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) 2 h 03:06. (penalty 27sec)
10. Joaquim Rodrigues (POR/Hero Speedbrain) 2h 19:37.
1. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli/Sergey Karyakin (ARG/RUS/Yamaha) 39hr 18min 52sec
2. Ignacio Casale (CHI/Yamaha) at 1hr 14min 51sec
3. Pablo Copetti (ARG/Yamaha) 4h 20:19 (penalty 15:00)
4. Rafal Sonik (POL/Yamaha) 5h 33:29(penalty 23:00)
5. Axel Dutrie (FRA/Yamaha) 5 h 45:24 (penalty 15:00)
6. Bruno Da Costa (FRA/Yamaha) 5h 57:18 (penalty: 1h 01:00)
7. Santiago Hansen (ARG/Honda) 5h 57:19 (penalty 13:30)
8. Nelson Augusto Sanabria Galeano (PAR/Yamaha) 6hr 11:46. (penalty 20:00),
9. Daniel Domaszewski (ARG/Honda) 6h 39:45(penality 22:00)
10. Claudio Adrian Bayer/Kamil Wisniewski (ARG/POL/Yamaha) 8 h 06:09. (penalty 6:00)
1. Eduard Nikolaev/Evgeny Yakovlev/Vladimir Rybakov (RUS/RUS/RUS/Kamaz) 27h 58:24
2. Dmitry Sotnikov/Ruslan Akhmadeev/Igor Leonov (RUS/RUS/RUS/Kamaz) 18:58
3. Gerard De Rooy/Moises Torrallardona/Darek Rodewald (NED/ESP/POL/Iveco) 41:19
4. Federico Villagra/Adrian Arturo Yacopini/Ricardo Adrian Torlaschi (ARG/ARG/ARG/Iveco) 1h 00:04
5. Airat Mardeev/Aydar Belyaev/Dmitriy Svistunov (RUS/RUS/RUS/Kamaz) 2 h 26:50
6. Aleksandr Vasilevski/Dzmitry Vikhrenka/Anton Zaparoshchanka (BLR/BLR/BLR/Maz) 2 h 34:57
7. Ales Loprais/Jiri Stross/Jan Tomanek (CZE/CZE/CZE/Tatra) 3 h 06:56
8. Teruhito Sugawara/Hiroyuki Sugiura (JPN/JPN/Hino) 3 h 18:36
9. Hans Stacey/Jan Van Der Vaet/Hugo Kupper (NED/BEL/NED/Man) 3 h 44:56
10. Martin Macik/Frantisek Tomasek/Michal Mrkva (CZE/CZE/CZE/Liaz) 3 h 54:40. (penalty 20:00)