Bengaluru: As the Dakar competitors enjoy a day of rest, Stephane Peterhansel looks well on course for his eighth title in cars category and a record 14th overall.
The Peugeot driver has a comfortable 27-minute lead over his nearest rival and team-mate Carlos Sainz while Toyota Gazoo Racing's Dutch driver Bernhard Ten Brinke is a distant third and pre-rally favourite Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah a place behind him.
First stage win for #CarlosSainz who shares his double podium with #StephanePeterhansel! Leaders on today’s stage and overall. Congratulations to both of them! #Dakar2018 #WeLoveDust pic.twitter.com/ZbSyHc0q4U— PEUGEOT UK (@PeugeotUK) January 12, 2018
The good news for the competitors left standing in the 2018 Dakar Rally is that they have now completed 3,194 kilometres. The bad news is that another 3,897km must be navigated between La Paz and Cordoba before the finish line will come into view.
In charge of the car's category at the Dakar's midpoint rest day, Peterhansel was in a buoyant mood.
"We can draw a positive conclusion from these first six stages. We've had quite a clean and straightforward week up to now. Our best day was Wednesday, when we won the stage. We're obviously very happy. Having said that, we've only covered a third of the rally in terms of competitive distance.
And we know that in places like Belen and Fiambala, there are still some very complicated stages to come. Anything can still happen as there is a big variety of stages in store. There have been plenty of dunes up to now and that has worked well for us, to be honest. Now we're in Bolivia, we're going to be faced with different types of stages," the Frenchman said.
It has been a very tough first week for many of the drivers and high-profile retirees include Sebastien Loeb and Andre Villas-Boas.
Qatari Al Attiyah, a two-time champion still remained upbeat as the rally resumes on Saturday (January 13).
"We suffered a really hard first week of this Dakar. Two days ago we had a broken gearbox and we were very, very lucky to even finish the stage. We only had second gear and we did 30 kilometres like that. Now we're here with eight days ahead of us, some of them will be very long. It's encouraging that my two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team-mates are with me close to the front of the race. We are third, fourth and fifth overall and that's not too bad ahead of the second week," the Red Bull athlete said.
(Source: Red Bull Media)