Carlos Sainz looks set to clinch the 2018 Dakar rally victory assuming he avoids disaster on the final stage after Peugeot team-mate Stephane Peterhansel crashed into a tree on the penultimate stage which has thrown away the French manufacturer’s provisional 1-2 finish.

Despite conceding victory was Sainz’s before the start of the penultimate stage due to the Spaniard’s healthy 45-minute advantage, Peterhansel still remained a threat with two marathon stages left to run but an hour into stage 13 the French driver hit a tree which damaged his Peugeot’s driving column and he suffered a sprained thumb.

With assistance from team-mate Cyril Despres, Peterhansel recovered to the neutral zone where he got further assistance to fix his car but limped to the stage finish in 20th place in the classification which has seen him drop from second to fourth place in the overall standings.

Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah clinched his fourth stage win of the 2018 Dakar to confirmed his step up to second place but trails leader Sainz by 46m18s heading into the final stage on Saturday.

Sainz can afford to drive conservatively to ensure he reaches the finish unscathed having taken the overall lead from Peterhansel at the halfway stage which he hasn’t relinquished at any stage.

Al-Attiyah’s Toyota team-mate Giniel de Villiers looks a late podium challenger having jumped from fifth to third on stage 13 with Bernhard ten Brinke dropping out but he holds a slender 8m08s lead on Peterhansel in fourth place.

In the bike category, Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price bagged another stage victory to strengthen his grip on third place in the overall standings as general classification leader Matthias Walkner produced a measured charge in fourth place to retain his advantage.

Walkner’s lead over Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides stands at 22m31s ahead of the final stage with the Argentine rider likely to focus on defending from the late charge by Price, with just five minutes splitting the pair, in order to deny Red Bull KTM a one-two victory.

Third Red Bull KTM rider Antoine Meo remains in fourth place but over 50 minutes behind Walkner with Himoinsa’s Gerard Farres Guell completing the top five.