Former WRC star Mikko Hirvonen picked up his first stage win in his rookie Dakar Rally, while Stephane Peterhansel preserved his massive lead in the overall standings.

By: Valentin Khorounzhiy, Editorial Assistant

Former WRC star Mikko Hirvonen picked up his first stage win in his rookie Dakar Rally, while Stephane Peterhansel preserved his massive lead in the overall standings.

Hirvonen, making his Dakar debut with X-raid Mini, was just nine seconds quicker than team leader Nasser Al-Attiyah at the completion of the marathon 481km stage.

South Africa's Leeroy Poulter looked set to take the honours for Toyota, having led each step of the way before slipping behind Hirvonen and Al-Attiyah at the penultimate waypoint - although he did hang on to third ahead of teammate Giniel de Villiers.

Nani Roma followed the Toyota duo in fifth, ahead of Vladimir Vasilyev and Orly Terranova.

In a stage where none of the Peugeots threatened for the top spot, Peterhansel gave up 11 minutes to Al-Attiyah, holding on to a 41-minute advantage as Dakar enters its final 180km stage.

Teammates Cyril Despres and Sebastien Loeb were slightly quicker than Peterhansel, with Loeb completing the stage as the top-placed Peugeot eight minutes off the pace.

Standings after Stage 12:

Pos.No.Driver

Car

Time/Gap
1 302  Stephane Peterhansel
 Jean-Paul Cottret

Peugeot

43h27m42s
2 300

 Nasser Al-Attiyah

 Matthieu Baumel

Mini

40m59s
3 301

 Giniel de Villiers

 Dirk von Zitzewitz

Toyota

1h07m6s
4 315

 Mikko Hirvonen

 Michel Perin

Mini

1h11m42s
5 319

 Leeroy Poulter

 Robert Howie

Toyota

1h36m16s
6 304

 Nani Roma

 Alex Haro

Mini

1h46m16s
7 321

 Cyril Despres

 David Castera

Peugeot

1h55m05s
8 307

 Vladimir Vasilyev

 Konstantin Zhiltsov

Toyota

2h04m49s
9 314

 Sebastien Loeb

 Daniel Elena

Peugeot

2h22m46s
10 323

 Harry Hunt

 Andy Schulz

Mini

3h08m58s

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