Former World Rally Champion Mikko Hirvonen has notched up his maiden Dakar Rally stage win while overall leader Stephane Peterhansel continued to cruise to a 12th win at the prestigious ultra-endurance event.

Axion X-Raid Team Mini-BMW driver Hirvonen pinched the stage 11 lead from Leeroy Poulter in the closing miles to claim his first stage win at Dakar and keep his slim hopes of a top three finish alive. Hirvonen trails third-place driver Giniel de Villers by 4m 26s but will need a major issue to befall his rival on the short final stage.

At the front, Peterhansel cautiously negotiated the San Juan to Villa Carlos Paz stage by finishing 10th fastest and despite seeing his lead trimmed by another ten minutes down to 40 minutes by defending Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah, the victory looks all-but secured with only the short Rosario stage remaining.

Elsewhere, Poulter's positive stage sees him round out the overall top five, with ex-leader and nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb down in ninth.

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