(Reuters) – French driver Stephane Peterhansel won the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally in Bolivia on Monday to pull further ahead of Peugeot team mate and compatriot Sebastien Loeb.
After a rest day in La Paz on Sunday, and bad weather cutting short Saturday’s sixth stage, the rally again made adjustments for the challenging conditions with a revamped route to the Uyuni salt flats.
The day’s action was comprised of a reduced 161km special stage and link sections of 400km and 240km respectively either side of it.
Peterhansel’s second win of the event gained him 48 seconds and left him with a lead of one minute 57 seconds over second-placed Loeb, with Toyota’s Spanish driver Nani Roma third, 11 minutes off the pace.
“The lead is better than nothing,” said Peterhansel of the slim margin.
“The overall classification is still very close, but it’s a really interesting race for everybody. We’re still in the fight and that’s the most important thing.”
The motorcycle category saw Britain’s Sam Sunderland increase his lead after finishing third. Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla is second overall and 17 minutes behind.
The rally, which finishes in Buenos Aires on Saturday, re-enters Argentina on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Neil Robinson)