Stéphane Peterhansel and Sébastien Loeb continued to set the pace at Dakar Rally 2017 by dominating Stage 7.
Following Saturday’s cancelled stage and Sunday’s rest day, the riders and drivers were back in action on a modified 161 kilometre special route, the first half of this year’s marathon stage.
Due to the persistent bad weather, a new course mainly taking place on sandy terrain was designed from Bolivian capital La Paz to Uyuni with the competitors separated from their mechanics and having to repair their vehicles alone for the first time.
12-time winner Peterhansel enjoyed himself on the sand to get the better of a high level duel with Loeb and edge his second stage of the race.
The French Team Peugeot duo pushed each other all the way with Peterhansel taking it by just 48 seconds, ensuring he keeps a slender advantage from his compatriot at the top of the overall leaderboard.
Giniel de Villiers in the Toyota Hilux placed third with Nani Roma taking advantage of a poor day from Cyril Despres to finish fourth and sneak onto the virtual podium of the overall race.
Peterhansel said: “It was small stage, but it was very interesting. There was a lot of navigation and it wasn’t easy. It was a little bit easier for me, because there were two cars in front of me and some tracks to follow, but we were doing good with the navigation already. The overall classification is still very close, but it’s a really interesting race for everybody, I think. We’re still in the fight and that’s the most important thing.”
Loeb added: “It wasn’t a long stage, but it was quite complicated, with a lot of sand, dunes and navigation at the start. At the end, there was a lot of mud, with big water splashes in faster sections, so we had to be a bit careful, but it was OK and there is no problem with the car. There’s still a long way to go.”
318 vehicles started the race one week ago, with only 110 bikes, 25 quads, 72 cars and 48 trucks still trying to make it to the finish line. Who will prevail?
Source Red Bull Content pool, images – Flavian Duhmel and Marcelo Maragni