14-time Dakar Rally champion Stefan Peterhansel crashed on stage six in Saudi Arabia on Friday, and Audi team mate Carlos Sainz also ran into trouble, giving reigning Qatari champion Nasser Al-Attiyah a huge boost.
The Frenchman Peterhansel, known as “Mr. Dakar”, was in second place last night, 22 minutes and 36 seconds behind Al-Attiyah, the Toyota driver, and was the fastest in the special stage before an accident after 212 km.
Organizers said that the co-driver, Edouard Boulanger, was taken to a hospital in Buraidah for examinations after suffering from back pain.
Al-Attiyah, the four-time champion, won the sandy stage, achieving his third victory in this year’s edition, and finished the stage with a difference of about three and a half minutes from Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, the nine-time world rally champion.
Al-Attiyah was one hour and six minutes ahead of fellow South African Henk Lategan in the overall standings.
Three-time Dakar champion Sainz, who started the day fourth in the overall standings, had an accident at the same place as Peterhansel, but was not injured, and waited for his car to be repaired before attempting to resume the rally.
Saudi Yazid Al-Rajhi, who started the day third in the overall standings with Overdrive Racing, stopped after 216 kilometers with his Toyota experiencing technical problems.