Peterhansel keeps Dakar Rally lead

Rio de Janeiro, Jan 10 (IANS) Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel maintained the Dakar Rally lead by winning the shortened seventh stage in Bolivia.

The 51-year-old finished the La Paz-Uyuni leg in one hour 54 minutes and eight seconds on Monday, just 48 seconds ahead of fellow Frenchman and Peugeot teammate Sebastien Loeb, reports Xinhua news agency.

South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers was third in a Toyota, three minutes and 33 seconds behind Peterhansel.

The timed section of the stage was halved to 161km after heavy rain made sections of the route impassable.

Saturday’s Oruro-La Paz stage was cancelled and Friday’s Tupiza-Oruro route was shortened due to bad weather.

Peterhansel leads the overall standings, one minute and 57 seconds ahead of nine-time world rally champion Loeb. Spain’s Roma Nani is third in a Toyota, 11 minutes and seven seconds off the pace.

Thee off-road race features 12 stages, covering more than 9,000km in Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina before ending in Buenos Aires on January 14.