– Peterhansel extends his lead
– Drivers take on the marathon stage without the team
The two MINI JCW Buggy crews of Stéphane Peterhansel / Edouard Boulanger (both FRA) and Carlos Sainz / Lucas Cruz (both ESP) both ended stage seven, from Hail to Sakaka, in the top three. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) and Dmitry Tsyro (UKR) finished seventh in the MINI JCW Rally.
Today, the Dakar competitors embarked on the marathon leg, which means that the drivers must get by without the support of their team this evening. In Sakaka, they will have to do their own work on the cars. The drivers are, however, permitted to help each other.
All the signs pointed towards a clear win for Peterhansel on stage seven. The Frenchman had clocked the fastest times for the entire stage. However, shortly before the finish, he was stopped in his tracks by a puncture and consequently lost a few minutes. He was able to make up some ground before the end of the stage and eventually came home in second place, with a deficit of 48 seconds. Sunday’s result saw him extend his overall lead by two minutes.
Victory on stage six meant Sainz and Cruz had to open today’s leg, which made navigation particularly difficult. Despite this, the MINI JCW Buggy crew made it through with only a few mistakes to finish third on the stage. Sainz and Cruz also lie third in the overall standings.
Stéphane Peterhansel: « We hit a stone on the last 40 kilometres and destroyed our rim. We then had a few problems changing the tyre. We have lost about seven minutes as a result. It is a pity, as we had a very good start to the stage. But that is how the Dakar is. »
Carlos Sainz: « We had a flat tyre and strayed off track slightly a few times, but that kind of thing can happen when you are opening the route. I am happy. »
Tomorrow’s route takes the competitors from Sakaka to Neom, where they will meet up with their teams again. As well as the 334 kilometres of liaison stage, they also face 375 kilometres against the clock. Awaiting the drivers are sandy and stony routes, while navigation is also expected to be difficult.
Result of SS7
1. Y. Al-Rajhi (KSA) / D. von Zitzewitz – Toyota – 4h 21m 59s
2. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / E. Boulanger (FRA) – MINI JCW Buggy – 4h 22m 47s
3. C. Sainz /ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) – MINI JCW Buggy – 4h 23m 14s
4. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) – Toyota – 4h 24m 47s
5. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Gottschalk (GER) – Toyota – 4h 33m 59s…
9. V. Vasilyev (RUS) / D. Tsyro (UKR) – MINI JCW Rally – 4h 42m 58s…
16. D. Krotov (RUS) / O. Uperenko (RUS) – MINI JCW Rally – 5h 00m 17s…
34. V. Khoroshavtsev (RUS) / A. Nikolaev (RUS) – MINI JCW Rally – 5h 43m 32s…
37. G. Spinelli (BRA) / Y. Haddad (BRA) – MINI ALL4 Racing – 5h 51m 09s
Overall standings after SS7
1. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / E. Boulanger (FRA) – MINI JCW Buggy – 26h 36m 50s
2. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) – Toyota – 26h 44m 43s
3. C. Sainz /ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) – MINI JCW Buggy – 27h 17m 56s
4. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Gottschalk (GER) – Toyota – 27h 59m 38s
5. N. Roma (ESP) / A. Winocq (FRA) – Prodrive – 28h 35m 50s
6. V. Vasilyev (RUS) / D. Tsyro (UKR) – MINI JCW Rally – 29h 02m 48s…
16. G. Spinelli (BRA) / Y. Haddad (BRA) – MINI ALL4 Racing – 31h 11m 24s…
26. V. Khoroshavtsev (RUS) / A. Nikolaev (RUS) – MINI JCW Rally – 33h 00m 50s…
33. D. Krotov (RUS) / O. Uperenko (RUS) – MINI JCW Rally – 35h 24m 07s