Stephane Peterhansel, Sergey Karyakin and Eduard Nikolaev were among the winners when the 2017 Dakar Rally resumed on Thursday. Peterhansel remains the rally leader after being given back time following a serious crash.
Peterhansel's stage win was awarded in slightly controversial fashion when he was given time back after being involved in a crash with Simon Marcic. Sebastian Loeb thought he had the overall lead before Peterhansel was given back the missing minutes and awarded both the stage win and the top spot in the rankings.
There was also controversy in the bike category when Michael Metge had an apparent stage win cancelled out because of a late time penalty. Ultimately, the stage win went to Metge's team-mate Joan Barreda.
Eduard Nikolaev dominated the trucks after Wednesday's Super Belen stage between Salta and Chilecito, Argentina, was cancelled, per Autosport's Valentin Khorounzhiy.
Thursday saw Nikolaev and other drivers attack the 751-kilometre route between Chilecito and San Juan.
The competition's official Twitter account announced the top three finishers in each event:
However, Loeb's initial classification was later amended:
Here's what the schedule looks like for the remainder of the Dakar Rally:
|Dakar Rally 2017: Schedule|
|Stage||Date||Motorcycle Distance||Quad Bike Distance||Truck Distance||Car Distance||UTV Distance|
|11||Friday, Jan. 13||754 km||754 km||754 km||759 km||759 km|
|12||Saturday, Jan. 14||786 km||786 km||786 km||786 km||786 km|
For full route information, visit the tournament's official website.
Loeb entered the day as the overall leader in the event. However, the Frenchman was soon put under pressure by Cyril Despres, as the Dakar Rally shared:
Earlier, Loeb was harassed by the unfortunate Peterhansel. The 51-year-old stayed close with the general leader:
Loeb was pushed hard, but he saved enough in reserve to stage a late surge to the checkered flag. In the process, Loeb pipped Despres to the finish, thinking he'd claimed his fourth stage victory this year.
Peterhansel's progress was naturally halted after the accident involving Marcic. The latter bore the brunt of the crash, while Peterhansel initially lost time in the standings.
However, things changed when Peterhansel was given back over 14 minutes after his earlier collision, per Khorounzhiy. A shaken Peterhansel vividly described the accident involving Marcic: "I braked also really hard, but I was not able to change direction. I stopped. The impact was not really strong, but he was under the car. My co-pilot [Jean-Paul Cottret] went out of the car, checked the situation. I put on the reverse [gear], and he [Marcic] was OK."
The event's official Twitter account provided an update on Marcic's condition after the accident:
Peterhansel still had a chance to make up the lost time on the leaders. Specifically, he was in position to make up time during the latter parts of the stage:
It was a day of tough collisions, which also saw Pablo Quintanilla forced out of the bike event:
Metge had crossed the line first on the bike after some terrific riding in testing conditions. In fact, Metge finished just five seconds short of a full minute ahead of Spaniard Barreda.
The picture later changed, though, when Metge was found to have missed a way-point, resulting in a time penalty, according to the Dakar official site.
The reversal involving Metge meant great news for Sam Sunderland. The Englishman couldn't cross the Stage 10 line in the top three, but he now tops the overall classification with a healthy advantage.
Yet despite his lead, Sunderland is taking nothing for granted:
Speaking of not taking things for granted, Karyakin wasn't guilty of that mistake. He'd opened up a gap of almost four-and-a-half minutes by the time he passed WP8. The Russian outpaced Chilean Ignacio Casale by a commanding 10:46.
Karyakin's gap in the general standings is even greater, with Thursday's winner leading by over 21 minutes. Avoiding disaster during the last two days should see him maintain the top spot.
Nikolaev is another Russian competitor enjoying first place in the rankings. He paced the truck event by over seven minutes.
Every leading rider will be ready to negotiate the tricky dunes at San Juan on Friday. Surprises are also expected on the sliding tracks at Cordoba, according to the Dakar Rally's official website.
Peterhansel and Karyakin will be among those keen to cement their healthy leads.
All times and ranking information per the Dakar Rally's official website.