Posted on January 13, 2018

The good news for the competitors left standing in the 2018 Dakar Rally is that they have now completed 3,194 kilometres. The bad news is that another 3,897km must be navigated between La Paz and Cordoba before the finish line will come into view.

In charge of the car race at the Dakar’s midpoint Rest Day is Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) of Team Peugeot Total. The reigning Dakar champ is currently on course for his eighth car category title to go along with the six times that he won the world’s toughest rally on a bike. That must be why he’s known as Monsieur Dakar.

“We can draw a positive conclusion from these first six stages. We’ve had quite a clean and straightforward week up to now. Our best day was Wednesday, when we won the stage. We’re obviously very happy. Having said that, we’ve only covered a third of the rally in terms of competitive distance. And we know that in places like Belen and Fiambala, there are still some very complicated stages to come. Anything can still happen as there is a big variety of stages in store. There have been plenty of dunes up to now and that has worked well for us, to be honest. Now we’re in Bolivia, we’re going to be faced with different types of stages.” – Stéphane Peterhansel #300

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Peterhansel’s closest rival is his Peugeot team-mate Carlos Sainz (ESP) who trails him by 27m10s. Then come three members of Toyota Gazoo Racing SA in the next three places on the leaderboard, including Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Giniel De Villiers (ZAF). “We suffered a really hard first week of this Dakar. Two days ago we had a broken gearbox and we were very, very lucky to even finish the stage. We only had second gear and we did 30 kilometres like that. Now we’re here with eight days ahead of us, some of them will be very long. It’s encouraging that my two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team-mates are with me close to the front of the race. We are third, fourth and fifth overall and that’s not too bad ahead of the second week.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah #301

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Elsewhere in the car race Kuba Przygonski (POL) has taken his MINI to sixth overall despite a number of setbacks in the first week. “We’re are really to happy to have made it this far because there was nothing easy about the first week. The stages in Peru were some of the hardest routes I’ve ever seen at the Dakar. All the top guys had problems, some big and some small. We had our share of problems; getting stuck in the soft sand, some punctures and times when my co-driver Tom (Colsoul) was sick. We're looking for a bit more luck in the second week because until now we’ve had some bad luck. We’re happy to still be in the game.” – Kuba Przygonski #312

It’s been a very tough first week for five-time Dakar bike race winner Cyril Despres (FRA) who was looking to back up last year’s car class podium finish with an even better result. Despres has at least managed to keep himself in the race, unlike high-profile retirees Sébastien Loeb (FRA) and André Villas-Boas (POR).