Dakar. 13 January: La Rioja.
• The rally took on a new twist today in the famous Fiambala sand dunes. Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret won the drama-filled stage to take the overall lead with an advantage of an hour over second place. The number 302 crew pushed from start to finish to claim their 35th career stage win on the Dakar together.
• Cyril Despres and David Castera put in another great performance, despite stopping to assist Peterhansel and Cottret on the stage. Their second-fastest stage time allowed the PEUGEOT 2008 DKR to claim a seventh one-two on this Dakar.
• Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz set off this morning in the lead, but had to abandon all hopes of victory today. Thirty kilometres from the end of the stage, the spacer between the engine and the gearbox gave way and the Spanish crew had to wait for their assistance truck. The team is now doing everything it can to make sure that they start again tomorrow.
• Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena had another character-building stage today. They got stuck after the engine stalled and ended up on their roof after coming down from a dune. Nonetheless, they still set fifth-fastest time on the most typical rally raid stage of the 2016 Dakar.
• The stage was shortened after 245 of the 278 scheduled kilometres, due to an overflowing river at the end of the planned route.
Stéphane Peterhansel (PEUGEOT 2008 DKR n°302), stage winner
“We got off to a pretty bad start. We got lost at kilometre 32 and drove around for about 15 minutes. Afterwards, I just went for it because I thought everything was lost anyway. We took some risks and pushed very hard because we knew that this stage would be decisive. This was a proper rally raid stage with tricky navigation, off-piste roads; deep ruts…everything that makes rally raids so demanding. That’s where you make or lose big amounts of time. I had a puncture and I just went like crazy. Today we were a bit out of control. But when we were going, we were going quickly. We’ve made an important step forward in the overall classification. And it’s good to know that Cyril is just behind us to give us a hand. He’s really getting on it now, although that was never his plan at the start, which is great.”
Cyril Despres (PEUGEOT 2008 DKR n°321), 2nd on the stage
“The navigation went well and David did a great job right from the start, when there were bikes, cars and trucks all over the place. I managed to understand what the right pace was today and I really had the impression that it was easier for me to drive my PEUGEOT 2008 DKR now than it was for me to ride my Yamaha two years ago. We drove as far as CP1 and we just wanted to be sure that Carlos and Stéphane were in front of us. We opened the door, and then got bogged down for four minutes when we got going again. But that’s learning. And then we saw Carlos in a river with some big rocks in it…”