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Loeb wins Dakar Stage 4, more trouble for Al-Attiyah

13 January 2018

- Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel doubled his lead in the Dakar Rally to almost seven minutes on Tuesday after an eventful fourth stage that claimed last year's motorcycle victor Sam Sunderland.

And this time he was out in front as he entered a 330km special stage at San Juan de Marcona.

The Yamaha rider takes the lead in the overall standings, 1 minute 55 seconds ahead of Chilean Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna).

It was Stage 4 that turned last year's Dakar Rally on its head, and 2018 has been no different.

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His five-minute penalty from Stage 3 overturned, Price and Walkner were among a gaggle of riders within five minutes of the lead at the final waypoint, but the Australian would lose a further seven minutes before reaching the finish. "As a positive I finished the stage in one piece, I'm in a good start position for tomorrow so I'll crack on and see if I can claw back some time then". We were following Al-Attiyah and saw him go over, so we did the same, but I hadn't realised there was a hole behind the crest. It took everything that I had and the machine had to make it through today.

Sam Sunderland's Dakar Rally title defence is over.

With the WRC legend ruled out, his Peugeot teammates Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz were left standing as the two frontrunners in the auto class, and it was the former who bolstered his chances with a strong time through Wednesday's test.

Qatar's Nasser al-Attiyah, a two times Dakar victor and leader after the opening day, fell to fourth in his Toyota and was 58 minutes adrift of 13 times victor Peterhansel, who was third in the stage.

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Peugeot's Sebastien Loeb during Stage 4 of the 2018 Dakar Rally.

Cyril Despres, the five-time champion on a bike who was lying second in a vehicle, had a broken rear wheel after hitting a rock at about 180 kilometers, and his rally appeared over.

Al-Attiyah quickly found his rhythm again, however, and clawed back time throughout the remainder of the stage to finish fifth, having lost only 16 minutes to Peterhansel despite the gearbox change.

Although Al-Attiyah still sits fourth overall, the 58 minute deficit leaves his and Toyota's hopes of overall victory reliant on trouble striking all three of the leading Peugeots.

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Another Frenchman, Sebastien Loeb, won the vehicle stage after dueling with defending champion and Peugeot teammate Stephane Peterhansel.

Loeb wins Dakar Stage 4, more trouble for Al-Attiyah