Stephane Peterhansel scored X-raid Mini’s fourth consecutive Dakar Rally 2020 stage win with victory on the sixth test, while Carlos Sainz heads into the rest day as the marathon’s leader.
Peterhansel outpaced fellow Mini buggy driver Sainz by a minute and 21 seconds over the 296-kilometre timed special between Ha’il and Riyadh, with the day’s route dominated by sand dunes.
Reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah completed a familiar top three on the day as the Toyota driver stayed within a minute of Peterhansel and Sainz during the first half of the stage before ultimately dropping to three minutes off the pace by the finish.
Al-Attiyah now trails Sainz by just under eight minutes in the general classification, while Peterhansel is a further eight and a half minutes back.
Toyota’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi was best of the rest behind the three Dakar champions for a third day in a row, as he gave up six and a half minutes to Peterhansel.
Friday’s results have allowed local hero Al-Rajhi to pull clear of Orlando Terranova for fourth place heading into the rest day – although he sits over half an hour behind Sainz’s overall lead.
Mini driver Terranova, who had led the rally after day two, surrendered nearly a quarter of an hour through the sixth stage.
He remains in fifth place, ahead of Century driver Mathieu Serradori, who continues to hold off the Toyota entries of Giniel de Villiers and Bernhard ten Brinke.
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso showed pace to finish in the top-five for much of the stage, but in the final 31 miles he was ultimately shuffled down to sixth place on the day by Serradori.
Alonso is over three hours behind Sainz in the overall standings as a result of his stop for damage repairs during stage two.
The event will resume on Sunday, when the peloton heads to Wadi ad-Dawasri from Riyadh to contest the 2020 edition’s longest timed special at 339 miles.
Leading stage six times