Dakar Rally: Nani Roma extends overall lead, Stephane Peterhansel asked to ease off
Last Updated: 16/01/14 10:01pm
Stephane Peterhansel: Over five minutes behind Mini team-mate Nani Roma
Stephane Peterhansel's hopes of defending his Dakar Rally title appear to be over after he was asked not to jeopardise Mini's podium sweep.
The Frenchman, who has won the car class five times and the bike class six times, was gaining on leader and Monster Energy X-Raid team-mate Nani Roma prior to Thursday's 11th stage from Antofagasta to El Salvador in Chile.
But he finished the 605km stage in fourth place, 3 minutes 17 seconds behind Roma, who stretched his overall cushion to 5:32.
Nasser Al-Attiyah, another Mini driver, was fifth on the stage and retained his position of third overall, his gap to the race leader being over 56 minutes.
The stage was won by Argentine Orlando Terranova, who lies fourth overall but will struggle to overhaul the top three with three stages remaining.
"The game is over. We've had a good laugh and enjoyed ourselves," Peterhansel said of the race situation.
"The team asked us to not take any more risks. It's a bit frustrating because we've done most of the hard work.
"But, if Mini wants to have three cars on the podium, at the speed at which we are driving out in front, it's easy to crash a car or even two in just one day. We know that this can happen, but I didn't think that they would do it."
Race organisers said they were disappointed by Mini's decision to effectively call off the competition for the top three places.
"We haven't been informed of this decision by the team manager of Mini," race director Etienne Lavigne said.
"But we are disappointed, clearly, because it is not in the spirit of the competition. It's a little shocking. It's not fair.
"If I was being mean, I would say to Mini that they can collect the trophy immediately. Fighting without risk is triumph without glory."
The bike section also looks to be decided, with three-time champion Marc Coma holding a 52:36 lead after winning stage 11. Fellow Spaniards Joan Barreda Bort and Jordi Vildamos are second and third respectively and do not look able to win barring a Coma mishap.