Stephane Peterhansel has returned to the top of the leaderboard at the 2018 Dakar Rally with victory on stage five as former leader Sebastien Loeb is forced out of the event.

Defending Dakar winner Peterhansel looks a firm favourite to clinch the 2018 victory after seeing his Peugeot team-mates hit trouble on the San Juan de Marcona – Arequipa stage which claimed Loeb from the race while Carlos Sainz dropped to fourth overall after stopping with a technical issue in the opening stretch.

Overnight leader Loeb has been forced out of the Dakar after getting stuck in the thick sand just a few kilometers into the fifth stage with the stop hurting his co-driver Daniel Elena who required medical attention. After three hours stranded Loeb was able to get going again but the injury to Elena was too severe and the team was forced to withdraw.

Peterhansel steered clear of danger to win the stage and reclaim the lead with Peugeot team-mate Carlos Sainz also moving up to second overall but with a hefty deficit of 31m16s to the leader.

It was another tough day for Toyota with lead driver Bernhard ten Brinke in third but 1hr 15m16s off of leader Peterhansel. The Dutch driver leads a tight battle between his fellow Toyota competitors with Nasser Al-Attiyah fourth and Giniel de Villiers fifth with the trio split by less than 20 minutes.

In the bike classification, Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren has maintained a slender lead of exactly one minute over Kevin Benavides for Honda with KTM’s Matthias Walkner in third 14 seconds back on Benavides. Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort clinched stage five victory by a huge margin of 10 minutes from Walkner to jump up to fourth place.