Sunderland, Al-Attiyah shine in Dakar 3rd stage

The Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi of the Team Peugeot Total driving through the dunes during stage 2 of the Dakar Rally on January 7

Briton Sunderland (Red Bull KTM), the defending champion, came back from a rough race on Sunday to finish first in the motorbike category for the second time in three stages and take a lead of almost five minutes over Argentina's Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda).

Loeb, who won Tuesday's fourth stage for Peugeot and was second overall, stopped five kilometres into the 266km fifth stage from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, the last overnight stop before the rally enters Bolivia and the high-altitude stages. The result lifted Loeb to second in the overall standings, just under seven minutes behind Peterhansel.

Santosh made a decision to play it safe and steady as the rally neared the halfway mark to finish the stage at 52nd position.

Xavier De Soultrait rides along the beach during Stage 4. "It was really hard and a insane day".

"I told myself I had to be calm and wait for the moment to pass the riders in front of me". Dune section was really long and hard but I managed that well. It took everything that I had and the machine had to make it through today.

Things aren't looking as good for the third Australian on the event, Scott Britnell.

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Sam Sunderland's Dakar Rally title defence is over.

With the WRC legend ruled out, his Peugeot teammates Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz were left standing as the two frontrunners in the auto class, and it was the former who bolstered his chances with a strong time through Wednesday's test.

Instead, the nine-time World Rally Champion headed the field at every waypoint but one, beating home fellow Peugeot teammate and WRC legend Carlos Sainz by 1m35s.

Peugeot's Sebastien Loeb during Stage 4 of the 2018 Dakar Rally.

After getting back into contention yesterday, disaster struck for Nasser Al-Attiyah who lost more than 30 minutes to the leaders.

Although Al-Attiyah still sits fourth overall, the 58 minute deficit leaves his and Toyota's hopes of overall victory reliant on trouble striking all three of the leading Peugeots.

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