Peterhansel started out the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally in a confident fashion in Bolivia and looked on course for a possible victory but suffered a standstill 129km into the race. By the time the French rally great repaired the left rear wheel, suspension and radiator in his Peugeot, he was 1 hour, 45 minutes behind Sainz, who was almost at the finish.
The Frenchman, bidding for a third successive triumph on four wheels, came to a halt after 186km of the run from the Bolivian capital of La Paz to Uyuni.
The Spaniard had been trailing Peterhansel for the majority of the 260-mile stage until the French driver hit a rock attempting to overtake a bike competitor in which he sustained heavy damage to the left-rear suspension of his Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi.
With Peterhansel gone, Carlos Sainz now has an hour and eleven minutes lead over Nasser al-Attiyah after clocking the fastest time for the day.
"Everything was smashed up. It's just a blow to our morale and some damage on the auto".
Al-Attiyah's teammates, De Villiers and Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke, were lying fourth and fifth overall respectively, with the local Toyota Gazoo Racing SA outfit putting up a strong fight in the chase.
"But there are plenty of stages left, some were very hard with the dunes and sand so anything can happen".
Spanish rider Joan Barreda of Honda won Saturday's stage in 5:11:10 with Dutchman Adrien Van Beveren second on his Yamaha, nearly three minutes behind, reports Xinhua news agency.
With van Beveren taking second place on the gruelling seventh stage he has reclaimed the overall classification lead from Barreda Bort's team-mate Kevin Benavides and now holds a slender 3m14s advantage of the Argentine, with the stage victor up to third despite his injury.
Van Beveren leads the event with a 3min 14sec advantage over Benavides while he has a 4min 45sec gap on Barreda.
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