Loeb regains lead as tragedy strikes Dakar Rally

Sebastien Loeb (File)
Sebastien Loeb (File)

Salta - Carlos Sainz claimed victory on the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally on Saturday with Peugeot team-mate Sebastien Loeb reclaiming the overall lead on a rain-lashed day which saw the gruelling event suffer another tragedy.

Spanish driver Sainz triumphed on the 817km run from Bolivia's famed salt flats at Uyuni to Salta in Argentina, beating Loeb by 38 seconds with defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Mini finishing third, 3:22 back.

For the dominant Peugeot team, it was a sixth consecutive stage win on this year's race, its 38th edition.

Nine-time world rally champion Loeb leads the overall standings with a 2:22 advantage over fellow Peugeot man and 11-time Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel who was fourth Saturday, 3:27 off the stage pace.

Sainz is 4:50 off the overall lead in third spot.

"We're in the lead and that's what counts. I didn't expect to be in the lead on the rest day," said Loeb, with the race taking a break on Sunday.

"We'll make the most of it. We'll have to work hard the next few stages. The next three stages are packed with pitfalls, they're tricky, but we'll try and do our best. Our only strategy is to attack a lot and post solid times."

However, the action was overshadowed by the death of a 63-year-old man who died when he was involved in a collision with a car driven by French competitor Lionel Baud.

"An accident occurred at the 82km mark of the day on Bolivian territory when competitor 409 Lionel Baud collided with a 63-year-old man who had become isolated on the track," said a statement from the organisers.

This year's Dakar had already got off to a dramatic start when a car driven by Chinese duo Guo Meiling and Min Liao smashed into a group of spectators watching the prologue in Buenos Aires.

It left 10 people injured of which three were seriously hurt.

In 2010, in the second year of the race taking place in South America after it left Africa, a 4x4 piloted by the German-Swiss pair of Mirco Schultis and Ulrich Leardi was involved in a crash which left a 28-year-old female spectator dead.

The following year, there was another fatality at Chilecito in Argentina.

Saturday's seventh stage had been held up due to violent thunderstorms which led to the motorcycle event being curtailed for the day.

When the stage was halted for the competitors on two wheels, Antoine Meo of France on a KTM had been the quickest.

Australia's Toby Price was fifth, also on a KTM, which allowed him to take the overall lead with a 6:12 advantage.

2016 Dakar Rally Stage 7 results

1. Carlos Sainz   (ESP)   03:19:03
2. Sébastien Loeb   (FRA)   +00:00:38
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah   (QAT)   +00:03:22
4. Stéphane Peterhansel   (FRA)   +00:03:27
5. Mikko Hirvonen   (FIN)    +00:04:07
6. Cyril Despres   (FRA)   +00:05:24
7. Giniel de Villiers   (ZAF)   +00:05:25

1. Antoine Méo   (FRA)   02:27:27
2. Kevin Benavides   (ARG)   +00:01:53
3. Paulo Gonçalves   (POR)   +00:01:56
4. Michael Metge   (FRA)   +00:03:51
5. Hélder Rodrigues   (PRT)   +00:04:2

1. Eduard Nikolaev   (RUS)   03:54:31
2. Ayrat Mardeev   (RUS)   +00:00:58
3. Pieter Versluis    (NLD)    +00:01:17
4. Gerard de Rooy   (NLD)   +00:02:11
5. Andrey Karginov   (RUS)   +00:06:4

1. Lucas Bonetto    (ARG)    02:58:30
2. Pablo Copetti    (ARG)    +00:00:29
3. Walter Nosiglia   (BOL)   +00:00:54
4. Alejandro Patronelli   (ARG)   +00:02:34
5. Marcos Patronelli   (ARG)   +00:03:22

2016 Dakar Rally overall standings

1. Sébastien Loeb   (FRA)   21:46:28
2. Stéphane Peterhansel   (FRA)   +00:02:22
3. Carlos Sainz   (ESP)   +00:04:50
4. Nasser Al-Attiyah   (QAT)   +00:17:36
5. Mikko Hirvonen   (FIN)    +00:32:53
6. Giniel de Villiers   (ZAF)   +00:33:41

1. Paulo Gonçalves   (POR)   22:52:30
2. Toby Price   (AUS)   00:03:12
3. Stefan Svitko   (SVK)   +00:09:24
4. Pablo Quintanilla   (CHL)   +00:18:06
5. Kevin Benavides   (ARG)   +00:21:0

1. Pieter Versluis    (NLD)    21:01:56
2. Gerard de Rooy   (NLD)   +00:05:31
3. Ayrat Mardeev   (RUS)   +00:10:48
4. Eduard Nikolaev   (RUS)   +00:10:54
5. Hans Stacey   (NLD)   +00:11:28

1. Alejandro Patronelli   (ARG)   27:02:31
2. Marcos Patronelli   (ARG)   +00:03:36
3. Sergei Kariakin   (RUS)    +00:07:51
4. Jeremias Gonzalez   (ARG)   +00:26:03
5. Alexis Hernandez   (PER)   +00:27:09

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