Peugeot driver Carlos Sainz moved into the lead of the Dakar Rally after taking victory in a shortened Stage 9 on Tuesday.

By: Pablo Elizalde, News Editor

Peugeot driver Carlos Sainz moved into the lead of the Dakar Rally after taking victory in a shortened Stage 9 on Tuesday.

The stage, one of the shortest of the rally, started and ended in Belen, with the original plan including a total of 285km timed and 111km in connections.

However, due to the extreme heat, organisers decided to stop the running at the fourth waypoint.

"Today's stage was expected to be difficult given the profile of the special," organisers said. "The dunes around Fiambala and the hot temperatures promised a tricky day for the competitors.

"These concerns soon proved to be true and, in light of the high number of competitors already in difficulty, in particular in the bike category, the race management have taken a logical decision.

"In order to guarantee maximum safety to the entire field, the race will finish at CP2."

Nasser Al-Attiyah hit the front at the first control point, outpacing Toyota's Leeroy Poulter by 11 seconds and Mikko Hirvonen by 27 as leader Stephane Peterhansel finished nearly two minutes behind and Sainz lost over three to the Qatari.

By Waypoint 3, however, Peterhansel had lost over 11 minutes to Al-Attiyah and around seven to Sainz.

But the Spaniard, second in the standings until today, sped up towards the finish and moved into the lead, finishing with a time of 2h35m31s at the point where the stage was neutralised due to the heat.

Mini's Erik Van Loon was a surprising second, only 10 seconds slower than Sainz, with debutant Mikko Hirvonen third in another Mini, 27 seconds off the pace.

Peterhansel, slowed down by punctures, finished the day nearly nine minutes behind Sainz, who now leads the rally by seven minutes over the Frenchman.

Al-Attiyah wound up fifth, behind the Toyota of Giniel de Villiers. The reigning champion remains third in the standings, some 14 minutes off the lead.

Sebastien Loeb finished the stage down in 18th place, over an hour behind Sainz.

Standings after Stage 9:

Pos.No.Driver

Car

Time/Gap
1 303

 Carlos Sainz

 Lucas Cruz

Peugeot

28h39m24s
2 302  Stephane Peterhansel
 Jean-Paul Cottret

Peugeot

7m03s
3 300

 Nasser Al-Attiyah

 Matthieu Baumel

Mini

14m38s
4 315

 Mikko Hirvonen

 Michel Perin

Mini

34m50s
5 301

 Giniel de Villiers

 Dirk von Zitzewitz

Toyota

53m18s
6 305

 Yazeed Al-Rajhi

 Timo Gottschalk

Toyota

1h01m48s
7 319

 Leeroy Poulter

 Robert Howie

Toyota

1h03m25s
8 306

 Erik van Loon

 Wouter Rosegaar

Mini

1h28m05s
9 304

 Nani Roma

 Alex Haro

Mini

1h42m55s
10 321

 Cyril Despres

 David Castera

Peugeot

1h51m30s

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