Sebastien Loeb took advantage of a stoppage for Peugeot teammate Stephane Peterhansel to win stage 8 and take the overall lead. Cyril Despres came in third to secure a podium clean sweep for the French team.Tuesday’s section of the rally took in Argentina and Bolivia but was shortened by 73km after rainfall in the region in recent days. Despite the conditions, Loeb completed the 417km split route in 4hrs 11min and 02sec.
Defending champion Peterhansel initially led from the front and was quickest through the first two checkpoints but a brief stoppage allowed nine-time World Rally champion Loeb to pass him shortly before the neutralized zone between the two countries.
Loeb extended his lead as the drivers moved in to Argentina, opening up a five minute lead at one stage before a puncture cost him some time. He finished the stage 3 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Peterhansel.
The French pair are now separated by just 98 seconds in the overall standings, with another Frenchman, Cyril Despres, more than 17 minutes off the lead.
There are four more stages to go in this year’s event, which concludes on Saturday in Buenos Aires.