Loeb out of Dakar, Peterhansel storms clear

Valentin Khorounzhiy
This article first appeared on autosport.com

Sebastien Loeb retired from the 2018 Dakar Rally on day five, as his Peugeot team-mate Stephane Peterhansel went fastest and stretched his lead.

Nine-time World Rally champion Loeb, first on the road after recording his 10th Dakar stage win on Tuesday, came to a halt just three miles into the 165-mile timed test between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa.

He got going after almost half an hour at a standstill, but his Peugeot was soon stuck again and lost another two hours waiting for assistance.

Loeb was finally helped by a truck and carried on but co-driver Daniel Elena was in pain after sustaining a tailbone injury and they were forced to withdraw.

With the WRC legend ruled out, his Peugeot team-mates Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz were left standing as the two frontrunners in the car class.

Peterhansel bolstered his chances of a 14th Dakar victory with his first stage win of the 2018 event, beating his nearest rival – Toyota’s Bernhard ten Brinke – by almost five minutes.

Sainz, having got stuck in the dunes early on, was 18 minutes down at the finish line, and now trails Peterhansel by over half an hour in the general classification.

The stage marked the end of Dakar’s all-Peru opening leg, as the rally will begin its high-altitude phase and head to Bolivia’s capital La Paz on Thursday.

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