Sebastien Loeb’s scintillating start to his maiden Dakar Rally was brought to a juddering halt when a sensational drive from Team Peugeot Total team mate Stephane Peterhansel saw him take the lead.
Frenchman Peterhansel, an 11-time Dakar champion across bike and car categories, stormed to victory in the marathon 542km sixth stage at Uyuni in Bolivia in a shade over five hours to capture the lead.
Another Team Peugeot Total driver, Spaniard Carlos Sainz, was the only driver to keep to anything like Peterhansel’s pace finishing 17 seconds behind with Loeb a distant fourth over eight minutes in arrears.
The win gave Peterhansel a 27-second lead in the overall standings against Loeb, another Frenchman who has won the World Rally title nine times and is trying his hand at the rally raid classic for the first time.
The improving Sainz is third, almost six minutes behind Peterhansel’s electrifying pace to make it a team 1-2-3 at the top of the standings.
Meanwhile in the bikes, Australian KTM rider Toby Price closed the gap on leader Paulo Goncalves with another impressive stage win following on from Thursday’s stage five victory.
Price clocked a time of five hours 51 minutes 48 seconds to win the stage by over a minute from team mate Matthias Walkner to close the gap on Portuguese Goncalves to just 35 seconds.
Walkner is almost three minutes behind in third place while Stefan Svitko is over five minutes adrift of the lead in fourth.