Carlos Sainz has taken the overall lead of the 2018 Dakar rally thanks to back-to-back stage wins coupled with Peugeot team-mate Stephane Peterhansel's lengthy stop with a broken left-rear suspension.

The Spaniard had been trailing Peterhansel for the majority of the 260-mile stage until the French driver hit a rock attempting to overtake a bike competitor in which he sustained heavy damage to the left-rear suspension of his Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi. Having begun the stage with a 27-minute advantage over Sainz, he has now slipped to third overall after a 90-minute stop to repair his car and scrambled to the stage finish 1hr 20m46s behind Sainz.

As a result, Sainz now holds a huge advantage over nearest challenger Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah who has been promoted into second place but trails the leader by 1hr 11m29s.

Peterhansel came close to dropping down to fourth overall as he finished the seventh stage La Paz – Uyuni just eight seconds ahead of Toyota’s Giniel de Villiers in the overall standings. The third Toyota of Bernhard ten Brinke continues to round out the top five less than fives minutes off of de Villiers while sixth place competitor Jakub Przygonski for Orlen Team/X-Raid is almost an hour further back.

Further drama followed in the bike category as Monster Energy Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort limped to the stage victory by almost three minutes from Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren but the Honda rider’s Dakar could be over with a suspected broken knee sustained in the closing miles of the seventh stage.

With van Beveren taking second place on the gruelling seventh stage he has reclaimed the overall classification lead from Barreda Bort’s team-mate Kevin Benavides and now holds a slender 3m14s advantage of the Argentine, with the stage winner up to third despite his injury.

 

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