Carlos Sainz scored his 20th career Dakar Rally stage victory on Wednesday and extended his overall lead as the event moved into Chile. Sainz is now within two wins of Stephane Peterhansel’s record 22.
Peterhansel’s BMW led, being 15 seconds quicker than Sainz, but he was delayed by a puncture later in the day and slipped to third behind Sainz’s Volkswagen team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah.
“It could’ve been a good day because we were in the lead at the intermediate points,” said Peterhansel. “But we got a flat tyre and had to change the wheel, which took two or three minutes. That’s what we needed to win the stage. It means we’re navigating well and we aren’t having problems on high altitude tracks either. So, even if it wasn’t our strategy to be third for tomorrow, it hasn’t turned out to bad in the end. By setting off in third we can gain back a handful of precious minutes.”
Sainz was relieved to take the victory but insists he is not in a comfortable lead of the event despite his lead climbing above four minutes. “There was some navigation work, a bit of off-track driving, but I think that it will be tomorrow when things will get serious,” said Sainz. “Peterhansel, Al Attiyah and even de Viliers are dangerous rivals. We’re very close to each other in the standings.”
De Villiers was fourth on today’s stage ahead of VW teammate Mark Miller, who’s back into the overall top 10.