Dakar 2017: Cyril Despres takes rally lead as team-mates hit trouble

Cyril Despres took the lead of the 2017 Dakar Rally after picking up his first stage win in the car category, as erstwhile rally leader Sebastien Loeb lost time and Carlos Sainz rolled

Dakar 2017: Cyril Despres takes rally lead as team-mates hit trouble

On a tough day for all Peugeot drivers but Despres, the five-time Dakar bikes champion moved to the lead of the rally from fifth place.

The stage itself - a high-altitude test starting in Argentina's Jujuy and ending in Bolivia's Tupiza - featured the longest timed section of the rally so far at 258 miles, split by a small neutralised zone on the Bolivian border.

Loeb, who led a Peugeot 1-2-3 heading into the stage, quickly dropped down the order.

He lost 20 minutes with what he reported to be an engine problem on the approach to the second waypoint, where team-mate Stephane Peterhansel and several competitors in the bike category had also lost time.

With Sainz having dropped 10 minutes earlier in the stage, Despres looked well-poised to capitalise and secure his first stage win for Peugeot, which he managed ahead of former World Rally Championship driver Mikko Hirvonen.

Sainz was chasing back and was all but guaranteed to assume the lead of the rally at the finish line, only to roll his car and get stuck in a ravine.

The Spaniard's misfortune left Despres leading the rally four minutes clear of Peterhansel, with Hirvonen close behind, having moved past Nani Roma late on.

Loeb now sits seven minutes off the rally leader, with Roma making up a top five separated by 10m30s.

While Peugeot's drivers dropped a fair share of time in the stage, many of its rivals found themselves in no position to capitalise.

Hirvonen's teammate Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who had been feeling unwell throughout the first stage at altitude on Wednesday, opted to retire from the rally after arriving to the neutralisation zone.

At Toyota, Giniel de Villiers lost time early in the stage, adding to the deficit that had been created by fuel pump issues on his Toyota Hilux on Wednesday.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER STAGE FOUR:

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LEADING STAGE FOUR TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Cyril Despres Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 4h22m55.s
2 Mikko Hirvonen X-Raid Mini John Cooper Works Rally Team Mini/BMW 10m51.s
3 Nani Roma Overdrive Toyota Toyota 12m51.s
4 Stephane Peterhansel Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 15m15.s
5 Sebastien Loeb Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 22m13.s
6 Giniel de Villiers Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Toyota 24m04.s
7 Jakub Przygonski Orlen Team Mini/BMW 24m23.s
8 Erik van Loon Vanloon Racing Toyota 27m02.s
9 Boris Garafulic Team X-Raid Gmbh Mini/BMW 32m48.s
10 Orlando Terranova X-Raid Mini John Cooper Works Rally Team Mini/BMW 42m33.s


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