Stephane Peterhansel set to claim 11th Dakar Rally win as main rival Nasser Al-Attiyah encounters problems
Last Updated: January 14, 2013 11:18pm
Stephane Peterhansel pulled well clear of rivals on stage nine
France's defending champion Stephane Peterhansel is well-placed to claim his 11th Dakar Rally win as his main rival Nasser Al-Attiyah had a day to forget during the ninth stage.
Spain's Nani Roma won the stage, the longest of the race, to clinch his second success in this year's event, leading home a Mini 1-2 with 47-year-old Peterhansel second and Argentinian Orlando Terranova third in a BMW.
Al-Attiyah - the 2011 champion - had to stop several times during the stage in his Red Bull Buggy including just four kilometres from the finish line with mechanical problems and saw his dreams of a second Dakar title all but ended.
Peterhansel now has a comfortable overall lead of almost 50 minutes over his nearest rival, South African Giniel de Villiers.
Despres back in the hunt
Earlier defending motorbike champion Cyril Despres stormed back into contention for this year's title as the Frenchman won his first stage of this year's renewal.
The 38-year-old KTM rider started the day over 24 minutes off the pace, but finished the stage in second place overall as he came home just over four minutes clear of Spain's Joan Barreda on a Husqvarna.
While Despres has put himself firmly into the mix for retaining the title - the four-time champion trails team-mate Ruben Faria of Portugal by five minutes and 23 seconds - two of his compatriots fell away completely.
David Casteu - who led overnight going into the stage - hit a cow with his Yamaha during the timed section which ended with him dislocating a shoulder and another stop on the stage saw him slip totally out of contention from pole position.
His compatriot Olivier Pain also endured a miserable time of things as he came off the bike on several occasions and lost around 32 minutes as he too lost sight of overall victory.