Nasser Al-Attiyah has returned to winning ways with victory on the 12th stage of the 2018 Dakar rally beating Stephane Peterhansel by just over two minutes as he sliced away at Carlos Sainz’s overall lead with two stages remaining.

Al-Attiyah clinched the stage win on the 375km special stage 12, Fiambala – Chilecito – San Juan, with a 2m03s advantage over Peterhansel to strengthen his grip on third place in the general classification. The Toyota driver now holds a 12-minute lead on fourth place driver and team-mate Bernhard ten Brinke with the third front-running Toyota of Giniel de Villiers in fifth almost ten minutes further back.

In the battle for victory, Peterhansel ended the stage runner-up to Al-Attiyah and despite declaring the contest over for the overall win the French driver still chopped more than 15 minutes out of Sainz’s lead with the Spaniard finishing the stage down in ninth place.

Sainz’s general classification lead still stands at a healthy 44m41s with two stages remaining, having seen his 10-minute time penalty rescinded yesterday, and assuming the Peugeot driver avoids any disasters he is on course for victory again at the Dakar.

In the bike and quad category stage 12 was cancelled overnight due to safety concerns and action will resume on Friday for the penultimate stage San Juan – Corbdoba.