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Dakar stage five – Loeb out and Toyota fights on

11 January 2018

Stage five of the 2018 Dakar Rally once again plunged the competitors into the Peruvian desert. Paying a heavy price for getting stuck in the dunes were nine-time WRC winners Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) who saw their Dakar come to a premature end.

As a result of clocking yesterday’s fastest time Loeb was handed the job of driving the first car onto today’s stage which featured the soft sands of Tanaka. The pitfalls of the desert rendered Loeb’s Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi unmovable and when his co-driver Elena fell ill then the decision was made to call it a day. Loeb’s retirement comes after yesterday’s forced departures of reigning bike race champion Sam Sunderland (GBR) and football manager turned rally racer André Villas-Boas (POR).

“We got to a place where there was another competitor stopped on a crest: in order not to have to stop while we were climbing I went right to avoid him…but there was a hole just over the crest that we hadn’t seen. We hit it hard. There was nothing more we could do but wait for the truck to pull us out. Daniel was in a lot of pain from the impact. We even finished the stage really slowly, in order not to make the pain worse. Given Daniel’s injury, we were left with no option but to retire.” – Sébastien Loeb

Better news for Team Peugeot Total came from multiple winners Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA) who increased their overall lead in the car category. The French duo used all their experience to come through one of the toughest stages of this year’s Dakar unscathed.

“We didn’t have any problems, but it was extremely tricky. These dunes were the most difficult ones since the start of the rally.” – Stéphane Peterhansel

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Bernhard Ten Brinke (NDL)/Michel Perin (FRA) had a good day in the sand bagging the second fastest time on the stage to move into third overall.

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crews of Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/ Dirk von Zitzewitz (GER) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) clocked the third and fifth fastest times on the stage respectively. It wasn’t an easy day for them as Al Attiyah’s Hilux suffered a broken gearbox and de Villiers got stuck in the sand and then had a flat just before the finish.

Giniel De Villiers: “The sand in the first section was insanely soft. We got stuck in the same place as five other cars. We looked for a way out and settled on deflating the tyres to 0.5 bar. We also had a flat tyre right before the finish! These are the toughest dunes you will find. There’s nothing tougher than this.”

The tough conditions meant that these two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA teams were unable to close the gap between themselves and Peterhansel at the front of the race. Al-Attiyah is fourth overall, 01h23m21s behind Peterhansel, while De Villiers is fifth overall and a further 11 minutes back.

Nasser Al-Attiyah: “It was a nice stage, but we had bad luck also. We broke the gearbox and we were lucky to get through the stage. We fixed it and we finished and we are here now. We need to work very hard now for the next nine days, because we see today many people retired like Sébastien (Loeb). It is still a long race. I drive at a good speed without any risks because we need to finish the stage.”

Stage 5 results -Cars
1. Stephane Peterhansel, Team Peugeot Total – 02h51’19”
2. Bernard Ten Brinke, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA – 02h 56′ 11”
3. Giniel de Villiers, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA – 03h 04′ 06”
4. Carlos Sainz, Team Peugeot Total – 03h 09′ 29”
5.Nasser Al-Attiyah, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA – 03h 15′ 52”

Overall standings after Stage 5 – Cars
1. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Peugeot 13:27:26
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP) Peugeot +00:31:16
3. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD) Toyota Gazoo Racing SA +01:15:16
4. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QTR) Toyota Gazoo Racing SA+ 01h 23′ 21”
5 Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota Gazoo Racing SA + 01h 34′ 34”

Source: Red Bull Content Pool