Stephane Peterhansel took the lead of the Dakar Rally from Sebastien Loeb on Friday, winning stage six and outpacing the World Rally legend by more than eight minutes.
Loeb carried a 7m48s lead into the Uyuni stage, but after matching Peugeot team-mate Peterhansel through the early waypoints, he started losing time shortly before the halfway mark as he suffered a puncture and then battled with a sticking throttle.
“I had to do almost 80 kilometres with the accelerator blocked at full power,” said Loeb.
“I had to control it with a switch and it was really complicated to drive like that.
“It was a complicated day, but hopefully it will be better over the next days.
“We lost first place, but there is still a long way to go and the problem will be solved.”
Loeb appeared to be limiting the damage to less than four minutes, which would have kept him in the lead of the rally, but between waypoints 11 and 12, the latter coming shortly before the finish, he suffered a second puncture, losing a further 4m40s to fall 27s behind his Peugeot team-mate in the overall standings.
Peterhansel spent the stage battling with the third Peugeot of Carlos Sainz, beating the Spaniard by 17s at the finish, having enjoyed an advantage of 1m21s at one point.
Sainz retains third overall, now 5m55s behind Peterhansel and nearly 10 minutes clear of 2015 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah in his Mini.
Al-Attiyah, who has made clear that his X-raid Mini is no match for the factory Peugeots, comfortably leads the chase of the French cars, 14 minutes ahead of Giniel de Villiers’ Toyota in fifth.
The South African driver has moved up a place at the expense of his team-mate Leeroy Poulter, who also slipped behind Mikko Hirvonen to fall to seventh on the leaderboard, having completed Friday’s stage 23m37s slower than Peterhansel.