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Sebastien Loeb takes Dakar 2017 lead with stage victory
Sebastien Loeb topped stage eight of the 2017 Dakar Rally, retaking the lead of the event from Peugeot team-mate Stephane Peterhansel.
The Tuesday test, spanning from Bolivia's Uyuni to Argentina's Salta, was meant to feature a timed section of 492km, split by a neutralised zone on the border between the two countries.
However, the Bolivian part of the special was shortened as a result of continued rainfall, trimming the timed stage by 73km.
Reigning event winner Peterhansel, first in the running order, was fastest at the first two waypoints - but a short stoppage cost him time against Loeb and allowed the WRC legend to move past him on the road ahead of the neutralised zone.
In the Argentinian section, Loeb continued gaining ground and was five minutes up on Peterhansel at one stage.
He dropped some time late on as a result of a puncture, but still ended up over three minutes clear on the day, which was enough for him to take the lead of the rally.
Both Loeb and Peterhansel again pulled away from their nearest rivals Cyril Despres (Peugeot) and Nani Roma (Toyota).
Whereas Despres managed to limit his losses and now sits 17 minutes off the rally lead, Roma had a tough time, dropping to fourth overall as Peugeot's 1-2-3 was reinstated.
Mikko Hirvonen once again led the X-Raid Mini contingent, completing the stage eight minutes behind Loeb, whereas Giniel de Villiers was 12 minutes down as the quickest Toyota.
DRAMA ON THE ROADS
The logistics of the Dakar's preparation for Wednesday's 1000km Super Belen stage have been complicated by inclement weather.
A rockslide on the road section link from the finish of the timed section to the Salta bivouac blocked both competitors and technical assistance vehicles from arriving at the venue.
An emergency bivouac was touted as one of the possible solutions, although it has now been reported that crews will simply be taking a different route to Salta.
The opportunity for teams to perform technical checks and fixes on Tuesday is regarded as particularly crucial, as competitors received no assistance at the Uyuni bivouac under marathon stage rules.