Peterhansel told to give up on Dakar win

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16 Jan 2019

Stephane Peterhansel surrendered all hope of winning a 12th Dakar Rally title on Thursday when he was told not to jeopardise Mini’s push for a podium sweep, robbing the gruelling race of a thrilling finish in South America.


The Frenchman, who has six motorcycle triumphs and five wins on four wheels in the race, finished the 11th stage from Antofagasta to El Salvador in Chile in fourth place, 14min 14sec behind stage winner Orlando Terranova.

Mini teammate and overall leader Nani Roma was second on the day, just over three minutes ahead of Peterhansel for the 605km stage – the longest of the event.

Spanish driver Roma leads the race by 5min 32sec with just two stages remaining.

“The game is over. We’ve had a good laugh and enjoyed ourselves,” said Peterhansel, who failed to disguise his frustration at the decision.

“The team asked us to not take any more risks. It’s a bit frustrating because we’ve done most of the hard work. But, if Mini wants to have three cars on the podium, at the speed at which we are driving out in front, it’s easy to crash a car or even two in just one day.

“We know that this can happen, but I didn’t think that they would do it.”

Race organisers said they were disappointed and a little shocked by Mini’s team orders which should see Roma, Peterhansel and Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah monopolise the top three places on the podium.

“We haven’t been informed of this decision by the team manager of Mini,” said race director Etienne Lavigne.

“But we are disappointed, clearly, because it is not in the spirit of the competition. It’s a little shocking. It’s not fair.

“If I was being mean, I would say to Mini that they can collect the trophy immediately. Fighting without risk is triumph without glory.”

Even Roma, the champion-in-waiting, was embarrassed by Mini’s stand.

“It’s disappointing for Stephane – it’s disrespectful. It’s a bad decision that has been taken.”

In the motorcycling section, Spain’s Marc Coma on a KTM won his third stage of the 2014 event and leads Joan Barreda on a Honda by a comfortable 52min 36sec.

Barreda was fifth on the stage but his campaign to hunt down Coma was hindered by losing all of his navigational instruments.

“It was a very long day. I had a little fall at the start, but it wasn’t serious,” said Coma.

“After that, I tried to maintain a good pace. The important thing is still being here in the race and also to be careful, because there is still one tough day left.”

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