France’s Dakar Rally legend Stephane Peterhansel took a huge step toward winning the race for a 12th time after finishing second in Wednesday’s 10th stage.
Peterhansel, six times a winner in the motorbike section and five times in the cars event, finished second in his Mini in the stage behind Qatar’s former winner Nasser al-Attiyah to move to just over two minutes adrift of overall leader Nani Roma.
For al-Attiyah it was a second stage win in three days, but the 46-year-old Peterhansel celebrated eating further into Roma’s lead.
He trailed the Spaniard by 40 minutes after the fifth stage, but made significant moves on Tuesday and then Wednesday and, with just three stages remaining, appears to have the momentum.
“This is the moment the race really starts,” he said afterward.
Al-Attiyah for his part said he had not given up hope of taking the race for the second time, having won it in 2011.
“We’ve only got one option left: going on the attack. We’ve still got three days to go and we’re rather happy,” he said. “At any rate, the race still has challenges in store for me, it’s not over yet.”
Earlier, Spanish rally great Carlos Sainz abandoned the race after crashing and injuring himself.
The 51-year-old two-time world rally champion and winner of the Dakar in 2010 was taken to the rally medical center, according to event organizers.