Sainz closes in on second Dakar title
Peugeot's Spanish drivers Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz compete during the Stage 10 of the Dakar 2018 between Salta and Belen
Chilecito (Argentina) - Spaniard Sainz is an hour ahead of fellow Peugeot driver Peterhansel with three stages of the rally to go
Carlos Sainz has his second Dakar rally title in his sights after overcoming his second tough exam in the Argentine dunes in Wednesday's 11th stage and maintaining his lead over Stephane Peterhansel in the general classification.
Spaniard Sainz is an hour ahead of fellow Peugeot driver Peterhansel with three stages of the rally to go after finishing third on Wednesday, 10 seconds ahead of the Frenchman.
"This is one of the Dakar classics. I lost the Dakar here in 2009 when I started with a 30-minute lead and I ended up in a hole, so it's very good to have got through it," said Sainz.
"We have to continue like this, day after day, and what was important was not to lose Stephane."
Sainz's bid was strengthened further after officials decided to rescind a 10-minute penalty imposed on Monday for a dangerous overtake of a quad bike competitor.
Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke (Toyota) won the stage with a time of 4hr 10min 54sec, ahead of Cyril Despres (at 4min 35sec) and Sainz (at 4min 40sec).
Sainz had lost 13 minutes to Peterhansel on Tuesday's 10th stage but after containing his closest rival on Wednesday made a crucial step towards taking the 2018 title, with a move away from the dunes and to more manageable routes.
Matthias Walkner is also close to the motorcycle title despite finishing fifth on Wednesday, nearly 10 minutes behind his nearest challenger Kevin Benavides.
KTM rider Walkner is 32 minutes ahead of Honda's Argentine rider Benavides, and after seeing former leader Adrien Van Beveren crash out on Tuesday witnessed Honda's Joan Barreda retire in the special stage, finally giving into the knee pain that he had complained of since Saturday.
Barreda had won three stages and was second in the general classification going into Wednesday's 11th stage, won in 4hr 01min 33sec by Australian Toby Price who climbed to third overall..