Peugeot driver Stephane Peterhansel has lost his lead in the 2018 Dakar Rally due to a suspension problem that caused him to stop on the seventh stage of the event.
Peterhansel, a 13-time Dakar champion, had entered the La Paz – Uyuni stage in Bolivia 27 minutes clear of teammate Carlos Sainz in the overall classification, and looked on course to add to his lead, topping the timesheets after three waypoints.
Instead, he was forced to pull over 186km into the timed special, with Peugeot reporting that his 3008DKR Maxi had suffered a damper failure and further suspension damage.
The Frenchman has now spent over an hour at a standstill, and could find himself out of contention for victory at the conclusion of the stage.
Peterhansel's troubles are exacerbated by the fact the Saturday test, featuring 425km of timed running, is part of Dakar's two-day 'marathon stage' format – meaning he and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret can receive no technical assistance from Peugeot's mechanics at the Uyuni bivouac.
The dramatic turn of events marks another heavy blow to Peugeot's farewell Dakar campaign, adding to Sebastien Loeb's retirement on day five and Cyril Despres' troubles earlier in the rally.
Despres, who sat 48th overall and more than 41 hours off the leader ahead of Saturday's running, was reported to have stopped to assist Peterhansel.
Peugeot's hopes of a farewell Dakar triumph now appear to hinge on 2010 champion Sainz, who is likely to end the day with a lead of over an hour.