Sebastien Loeb laid down the gauntlet as he defied the apparent odds to deliver a dominant second stage victory for Peugeot at the Dakar today, when the 9-time world rally champion beat the Toyota Hilux Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah and Carlos Sainz in another Peugeot. Sainz defeated South African Giniel de Villiers’ second Toyota by a second.
Frenchman Loeb’s performance is best put into perspective by his 2-minute advantage over the next Peugeot driven by Spain’s Sainz, who had also complained about the Toyotas before chasing them and Loeb home to third. Spaniard Nani Roma was fifth in the third Toyota, with Saudi Yazeed al Rajhi sixth in the best of the Minis
Loeb defied his Peugeot’s allegedly sluggish nature and that team’s rather vocal complaints about the rules this year favoring the Toyotas by delivering a spellbinding performance to lead Stage 2 at the first checkpoint by over a minute from Al Attiyah and de Villiers 40 seconds further adrift. Sainz lay fourth from Roma and al Rajhi after Xavi Pons’ Ford lost time when it stopped on stage, but the order remained more or less the same through to the finish.
On two wheels, 2016 winner, Aussie Toby Price stamped his authority on the second day of the bike race when he dominated the early running before controlling the pace to win by 2 minutes 39 seconds from Austrian KTM teammate Matthias Walkner and Portuguese Honda rider Paulo Goncalves.
British rider Sam Sunderland (KTM) was fourth after day 1 winner Viscount Xavier de Soultrait popped up in that position after being missing from the timing screens all day, but he was however penalised a minute to drop to fifth behind Sunderland but ahead of Husqvarna man Pablo Quintanilla. The Hondas of Barreda Bort and Brabec lost 3 minutes each to tumble down the order from the top four to end up 7th and 9th each side of Svitko’s KTM.
SA biker David Thomas was up to 37th by CP4, but fell back to finish an impressive 43rd and gaining a brilliant 25 positions on the day, while Botswana rider Vince Crosbie lay 62nd at WP5 as we wrote, also 29 positions up; Joey Evans was into the top 100 in 89th and Walter Terblanche 119th.
Argentine quad hero Jacopo Coppetti took the quad stage from fellow Yamaha rider Paraguayan Sanabria Galeano. The trucks were still racing as we wrote.