January 7, 2018 / 8:52 PM / 9 months ago

Rallying: Despres puts Peugeot into the Dakar lead in Peru

(Reuters) - Frenchman Cyril Despres put Peugeot into the lead of the Dakar Rally on Sunday as the French manufacturer bounced back from a difficult opening day in the dunes around Pisco in southern Peru.

Cyril Despres won his second ever stage with the team, and with it taking the overall lead, by bringing home a Peugeot 1,2,3 in front of Stéphane Peterhansel and Sébastien Loeb.\nCyril Despres (FRA) of Team Peugeot TOTAL seen at the bivouac after stage 2 of Rally Dakar 2018 from Pisco to Pisco, Peru on January 7, 2018. // Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool // For more content, pictures and videos like this please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com

A five-times winner on two wheels, Despres took over at the top of the car classification from earlier starter Qatari Nasser al-Attiyah who had won Saturday’s short first timed stage from Lima.

Despres ended the day with a 27-second lead over his compatriot, team mate and defending champion Stephane Peterhansel, who is chasing his 14th Dakar title.

Peugeot finished one-two-three in the stage, with nine-times world rally champion Sebastian Loeb third after losing his brakes on Saturday.

South African Giniel de Villiers was in third place overall for Toyota, however, five minutes 44 seconds behind Despres.

Toyota’s Al-Attiyah had the handicap of opening the 267-km stage, a loop around Pisco, with no motorcycle tracks for guidance this time and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel feeling unwell in a stage requiring careful navigation.

The Qatari dropped to fifth overall, 12 minutes 15 seconds off the lead.

“It was not easy, Matthieu was completely sick after 15km and we needed to take care,” said the two-times winner.

“We are quite happy to finish... tomorrow we’ll have a better road. If we start in a good position, it will be no problem, I think.”

In the motorcycle category, Britain’s defending champion Sam Sunderland lost the lead to Honda’s Spanish rider Joan Barreda and fell to fourth overall.

Barreda leads French Yamaha rider Adrien van Beveren by two-and-a-half minutes.

Monday’s 296-km third stage is south from Pisco to the coastal town of San Juan de Marcona.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Clare Fallon

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