Carlos Sainz has been forced to withdraw from the Dakar Rally after pushing too hard in the battle for the lead following early stage navigation problems.
The 2010 winner was just three miles from the end of the Jujuy-Tupiza stage in Bolivia when he rolled into a ravine on the brink of taking the lead.
Even though two-time World Rally champion Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz managed to get their Peugeot 3008DKR to the service bivouac, the damage proved too much to repair in time for Friday’s stage.
Sainz, who incurred pain in his lower back during the accident, explained:
We had lost so much time at the start of the stage – we had to recover, and recover, and recover.
And when you take so many risks, these things can happen. The car could not continue by itself because we had broken the radiator, the shifter. We pushed the car, put it on the road, trying to get help.
Sainz joins fellow high-profile casualties Nasser Al-Attiyah and reigning motorcycle champion Toby Price of Australia.
Motorbike favourite Price crashed out of the Dakar Rally on Stage 4, ending his hopes of retaining the title. Price, who won last year’s event by more than 40 minutes, had been among the leading contenders in the event despite a navigational issue dropping him down to fifth on Stage 3. After being in the lead of the stage after a slow start, he crashed out and had to be airlifted to hospital with a broken limb.
Stage 6, taking place Saturday 7 January, sees a 786km rally stretch between Oruro and La Paz. Overcoming the early dunes will be just one of the challenges on this long day. The fastest will complete in daylight but for many, headlamps will be invaluable. Reaching the rest day (Sunday) in the Bolivian capital will be a success in itself.
Featured image: Carlos Sainz of team Peugeot TOTAL during stage 4 of the rally. Photo: Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool