RIYADH: France's Stephane Peterhansel, a record 14-time winner of the Dakar Rally, crashed out of the 2023 edition on Friday as Qatari Nasser al Attiyah won the sixth stage in his Toyota.
The 57-year-old Peterhansel, whose nickname is 'Mr Dakar' after eight car victories and six on a motorbike, "had an accident after 212 km of the day's special", organisers said.
"His co-pilot Edouard Boulanger has been injured by the impact leaving him with pain in the back. He has been evacuated by the Dakar medical team to the hospital in Buraydah to undergo further examinations."
Peterhansel's Audi team-mate Carlos Sainz, a three-time former Dakar car winner, also suffered an accident at the same place.
Sainz and his co-pilot were unharmed, according to organisers.
In the absence of Peterhansel and in light of Sainz's problems, Al Attiyah made no mistake in notching up his third stage victory despite mechanical problems of his own.
The defending champion won the stage 3min 29sec ahead of nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb (Prodrive), with South African Henk Lategan (Toyota) 8:52 adrift.
Lategan moves into second in the overall standings, 1hr 06min behind Al Attiyah, with Brazilian Lucas Moraes (Overdrive) in third, a further 7min off the pace.
"It was a very tough stage, not easy," said Al Attiyah. "We really pushed a lot but for the last 40 km we broke the steering pump, so we didn't have any steering.
"We had a lot of oil coming out, but we'll try to repair it now and then we'll go to Riyadh."
Loeb now stands sixth, 1hr 57min off the Qatari, but was left satisfied with his stage podium.
"It was a clean stage for us," the Frenchman said. "We lost a little bit of time on some way points, but not too much, just like two or three minutes.
"When you see what happened on the stage, I think in the end that we did a good stage, with second time overall. It was better than the previous ones and I think we've made a good step in the general rankings, so that's not too bad."
Luciano Benavides won the sixth stage of the motorbike section to make it seven different winners for seven days of racing.
The Argentinian Husqvarna rider beat team-mate Skyler Howes home by 0.56sec, with Red Bull KTM's Toby Price in third, at 2:28.
The result saw Howes increase his lead over his direct pursuers, whose positions have not changed on the provisional podium. Price now trails by 3:31, with Benavides 7:01 behind. -- AFP