Stephane Peterhansel said his latest Dakar win was the sweetest of his career as he held off the challenge of compatriot Sebastien Loeb to claim his 13th title. Peterhansel was 5min 13sec clear of Peugeot teammate Loeb.The 51-year-old Frenchman made no mistakes on the short final stage on Saturday to add the 2017 title to his previous six wins on four wheels and his six on two, the first coming in 1991.
“This victory is particularly sweet because the competition was so high,” said Peterhansel. “Battling Sebastien and finishing just a few minutes ahead, it’s no mean feat.”
Peterhansel and compatriot Loeb dominated this year’s rally as did their team, Peugeot. The French team claimed their first podium sweep since 1990, with Cyril Despres finishing third.
The rally had long since turned in to a two horse race with the turning point coming in stage 10 when Peterhansel stopped to help a motorcycle rider following a crash and was subsequently awarded almost 10 minutes of lost time. Despite a narrow win for Loeb in stage 11, the gap proved too much for the nine time World Rally champion to bridge.
We gave it everything, held nothing back,” said Loeb. We had a beautiful race. Second this year, we’ll have to do better next year.”
Sam Sunderland became the first Briton to win the motorbike section after having to retire from the last two editions while Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev won in the trucks category.