At the end of fifteen stages, Frenchman StÃ©phane Peterhansel was in the comfortable position of holding an almost 26 minute lead over Hiroshi Masuoka. The battling top two Mitsubishis have dominated the overall cars competition from the opening...
At the end of fifteen stages, Frenchman St?phane Peterhansel was in the comfortable position of holding an almost 26 minute lead over Hiroshi Masuoka. The battling top two Mitsubishis have dominated the overall cars competition from the opening prologue of the Dakar.
Today is the penultimate stage and the hopes of winning Dakar Rally loomed large for Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret. However, the French duo is currently sitting beside the road prior to checkpoint three awaiting assistance.
While running in sixth place in today's special, Peterhansel missed seeing a rock as the dust from St?phane Henrard's Volkswagen blocked his vision, and the impact destroyed the left front wheel and suspension.
After yesterday's stage, Peterhansel talked about his main competitor, Masuoka and today's stage. "For tomorrow nothing is clear. Tomorrow, it'll be his [Masuoka] turn and how can I know if he isn't going full speed. If I don't see his dust, I'll have to go faster and there's always the possibilty for mistakes."
Current leader in the cars for stage sixteen is Mitsubishi's "Miki" Biasion. Masuoka who should take the overall lead is fourth on the stage.
Ironically, the Dakar Rally organizers refer to the sixteenth stage as not only the longest in the 25th Dakar, but as having 'stretches of difficult, rocky, narrow cols. A special stage at the end of which overall positions can still change' -- certainly appropriate words for today's stage.
Peterhansel did finish the longest rallye stage of the event in 42nd position, and now is listed in fourth place cars overall at two hours and 20 minutes behind the new leader Masuoka.
"It's a terrible day," stated Peterhansel after arriving in Sharm El Sheik. "40 kilometres from the finish we were behind [Henrard]. In the dust we got trapped by a big rock and broke the left wheel. We had to wait for an assistance truck. A really terrible day since this morning. That's what happens in motorsports and when you think the race is won, you realise that until the finish line nothing is over."
Richard Sainct still holds the motobike overall lead, but lost nearly three minutes lead time to today's stage winner Cyril Despres.