LIMA, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah extended his Dakar Rally lead on Thursday after winning the fourth stage from Arequipa to Tacna in southern Peru.
The Toyota driver, a two times Dakar winner, completed the 406km special timed stage with a lead of eight minutes and 55 seconds over 13 times winner Stephane Peterhansel, who was ahead of him on the road in a Mini at the start of the day.
Peterhansel finished runner-up in the stage to move up to second place.
“We won the stage, but there is perhaps still a faster car out there. It was very important to catch Stephane and stay with him all the way. I’m quite happy. Everything is okay – there are no problems,” said Al-Attiyah.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who had been second overnight, had a difficult day and dropped back down to fifth place with four Minis in the top five.
Thursday’s stage was the first part of a ‘marathon leg’, with competitors not allowed any external assistance until they return to Arequipa on Friday.
Nine times world rally champion Sebastien Loeb suffered three punctures and lost 12 minutes to Al-Attiyah, while still moving up to sixth in his privately-entered Peugeot.
Reigning champion Carlos Sainz was 23rd and four hours and 40 minutes off the leader’s pace after a nightmare stage on Wednesday.
In the motorcycle category, American Ricky Brabec led the field with a two minute, 19 second advantage over Chilean Pablo Quintanilla, the overnight leader.
Australian Toby Price was in third place and ahead of British KTM team mate Sam Sunderland.
The endurance rally, staged in South America since it was switched from Africa in 2009 for security reasons, ends in Lima on Jan. 17. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Nick Mulvenney)