The big winner on the first 'proper' stage of this year's Dakar was Loeb (FRA) and co-driver Daniel Elena (MON).
Loeb gunned his Peugeot 3008DKR over the dunes to record the 11th Dakar stage win of his illustrious offroad career.
The Frenchman may be a privateer entry in this edition of the world's toughest race, but on second -stage evidence, he has what it takes to run with the best supported teams in the bivouac.
"In the dunes it's tough to keep on rhythm for the whole day, but we managed it well and things worked out for us," said Loeb.
In an unusual twist, Al Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) who opened the road in their Toyota Hilux slipped.
Al Attiyah used all of his sand racing experience to guide the pack through the dunes.
After suffering a puncture, the Qatari was caught by X-raid MINI JCW Team members Carlos Sainz (ESP) and co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP). The Toyota and Mini rivals can both reflect on a steady day's work.
Esprit de corps
There was great evidence of esprit de corps out on the stage as 13-time winner Peterhansel got stuck in the dunes at the 109km point of the special stage. Peterhansel's fellow MINI John Cooper Works Buggy driver Cyril Despres (FRA) pulled over and gave his team-mate a tow - sacrificing his own chance of a stage win. The spirit of the Dakar is alive and well in Peru!
"Without Cyril's help we would still be there now and not here at the finish line," said Peterhansel.
De Villiers on top
Fourth place on the second stage was enough to elevate the Toyota Hilux crew of De Villiers (SA) and co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz (GER) to top spot in the car race in the early rankings.
There's another bumper day of racing due on Wednesday (January 9) at the 2019 Dakar Rally.
In addition to a 467-kilometre liaison route there will be 331 kilometres raced against the clock.
As the Dakar convoy moves from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa they will discover the dunes of Acari, a region as yet unvisited by the rally.