Bengaluru, January 12: Rally legend Carlos Sainz notched up his first stage win of the 2018 Dakar by beating Puegot team-mate Stephane Peterhansel in the sixth stage, but the latter looks well on course to annex a record 14th title as the Frenchman extended his overall lead to 27 minutes over the Spaniard.
Sainz beat Peterhansel by four minutes and six seconds in the 313km stage, split into two sections with a 238km neutralised stint to the shores of Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian Altiplano.
Toyota Gazoo Racing's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, one of the pre-rally favourites finished third in a Hilux and is fourth overall behind team-mate and Dutch driver Bernhard Ten Brinke who finished seventh in the stage.
⏱ LIVE TIMING #Dakar2018 - Stage 6 - WP7:— Peugeot Sport (@peugeotsport) January 11, 2018
3.Al Attiyah +3'40''
4.D Villiers +4'26''
6.Ten Brinke +6'17''
10.Przygonski +9'22'' pic.twitter.com/sodgMovcRe
The car category now looks sure to be won by one of the Peugeot drivers in what is also the manufacturer's farewell to the FIA event. The only blemish for Peugeot in an otherwise stellar 2018 campaign was the withdrawal of nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb after the fifth stage.
Peterhansel has won more Dakars than anyone looks the firm favourite as of now in the most gruelling off road rallies of all times.
Earlier, the drivers were greeted with wreaths made of coca leaves, which help combat altitude sickness and are also used as the raw ingredient in cocaine, as they entered the Andean country of Bolivia.
Coca producers from the Bolivian Yungas region placed the wreaths on drivers' necks during a ceremony in the capital of La Paz after they crossed over from Peru, where the race began on January 6 and ends on January 20 in Cordoba, Argentina.
The competitors will now take a much-needed rest in the Bolivian city of La Paz on Friday (January 12).
The action resumes in earnest on Saturday (January 13) with a further eight timed special stages to be covered.
(With Agency and Red Bull Media inputs).