Nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb has taken the overall lead in the Dakar Rally after winning the eighth stage.
The 42-year-old Frenchman finished the 417-km journey from Uyuni in Bolivia to the Argentine city of Salta in four hours 11 minutes and two seconds, three minutes and 35 seconds ahead of defending champion Stephane Peterhansel, reports Xinhua news agency.
Their countryman and fellow Peugeot driver Cyril Despres was third -- five minutes and 13 seconds behind Loeb. Loeb leads the overall standings, one minute and 38 seconds in front of Peterhansel while Despres is third, 17 minutes and 17 seconds off the pace.
“Today was the type of stage that I like, with some fast roads, whereas tomorrow is more desert-like with dunes,” Loeb said.
“I wanted to try to make a gap today, but I had a puncture near the end of the stage and I lost a few minutes changing the wheel. But it’s ok. It’s still the best time and we are still in the fight.”
Spain’s Joan Barreda won the motorcycle stage on his Honda ahead of Austria’s KTM rider Matthias Walkner and Great Britain’s Sam Sunderland, also on a KTM.
Sunderland leads the overall bike standings, 20 minutes and 58 seconds ahead of Chile’s Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla. Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren of France is third, 28 minutes and 49 seconds behind Sunderland.