Sebastien Loeb is the second big name in as many days to exit the Dakar Rally after a torrid run capped off by an injury to his co-driver in Stage 5.
His misfortune was in contrast to team-mate Stephane Peterhansel, who won the stage and put his lead beyond half an hour over another of Peugeot’s works driver in Carlos Sainz.
Loeb (Team Peugeot, French), who was first on route in the Cars by virtue of his stage win a day prior, was one of many to suffer with the soft sand and challenging dunes of the Tacna region.
The nine-time World Rally Champion lost 2hr 45min after twice becoming stuck in the sand during the 268km special stage, the first incident occurring less than five kilometres in.
Worse still, a hard landing off a dune caused agony for co-driver Daniel Elena and ultimately led to Loeb withdrawing from the event.
“The sand was extremely loose. We got stuck once and managed to get going again,” Loeb recounted.
“In another part of the race, we got to a crest where another car was stuck. We were following Nasser (Al-Attiyah) and saw him go over, so we did the same, but I hadn’t realised there was a hole behind the crest.
“And, bam, we went right into the hole! We waited for a truck to pull us out.
“Right now, I’m trying to see how my co-driver’s doing,” he added while speaking before his decision.
“We’re driving really slowly and as soon as I go over 30 km/h he screams inside the car. He’s hurting, we’ll see what’s the matter.
“Right now, I don’t think we can go on. He’s boss, I don’t want to force him do to anything, but it looks bad.”
Peterhansel (Team Peugeot, French) showed his class in picking up his first stage win of the rally, with Sainz (Team Peugeot, Spanish) remaining second overall, albeit by an increased margin after he too got stuck in the sand.
Bernhard Ten Brinke (Toyota Gazoo, Dutch) was the major upward mover in the general classification, rising from fifth to third with the second-quickest time of the day, 4:52s slower than Peterhansel.
The rally is, however, Peugeot’s to lose with Ten Brinke 75 minutes off the lead and Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo, Qatari) another eight minutes further back after dumping more time in Stage 5.
Al-Attiyah was fifth-fastest on the day, 24:33s off Peterhansel’s time, behind Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo, South African) and Sainz.
Cyril Despres (Team Peugeot, French) was ninth-fastest on stage and is officially 50th in the general classification with 29 hours’ worth of penalties after breaking his suspension a day earlier.
Joan Barreda Bort (Honda Team, Spanish) has slashed his deficit to Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha Official, French), who continues to lead the Bikes division.
Barreda Bort stormed back up to fourth in the general classification, 7:33s behind van Beveren, by picking up a second stage win two days after a costly navigational error.
Kevin Benavides (Honda Team, Argentinean) closed up to a neat minute off the lead of the general classification by finishing third on the day, behind Matthias Walkner (KTM Official, Austrian).
Van Beveren was fifth-fastest but fared better than Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna Factory, Chilean), whose late fall contributed to him giving up more than 14 minutes to the leader and falling from second to ninth in the general classification.
Toby Price (KTM Official, Australian) remains just over 10 minutes off the lead and still sixth overall.
“We got through with some trouble at a waypoint today, the hidden ones at the moment are a big task,” Price, who was seventh-fastest on stage, recounted online.
“Day 5 is done, I’m feeling good in sixth overall and looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Stage 6 on Thursday (local time) starts in Arequipa, Peru and finishes in La Paz Bolivia, with 313km of special stage running and 447km of liaison between.
General classification: Cars
|3||309||Bernhard TEN BRINKE||NED||Toyota||+1:15:16|
|5||304||Giniel DE VILLIERS||RSA||Toyota||+1:34:34|
|6||319||Sheikh Khalid AL QASSIMI||UAE||Peugeot||+1:46:48|
General classification: Bikes
|1||4||Adrien VAN BEVEREN||FRA||Yamaha||14:37:40|
|4||5||Joan BARREDA BORT||ESP||Honda||+0:07:33|
|5||23||Xavier DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||Yamaha||+0:07:42|
|8||3||Gerard FARRES GUELL||ESP||KTM||+0:15:24|