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Hirvonen happy with the opening stages of the 2018 Dakar Rally

12 January 2018

"The sand was extremely loose", Loeb said. "We tried to put air back in and we were stuck again for 30 or 20 minutes". We got to a crest where another auto was stuck. Dune section was really long and hard but I managed that well. "We are doing a good job at the moment though".

The 13-time Dakar champion notched up his first stage win of the 2018 event, beating his nearest rival - Toyota's Bernhard ten Brinke - by nearly five minutes. The result lifted Loeb to second in the overall standings, just under seven minutes behind Peterhansel.

Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke of Toyota finished the stage 4:52 behind Peterhansel.

Peugeot driver Stephane Peterhansel during Stage 4.

Ten Brinke is 1:15:16 behind Peterhansel.

De Villiers got stuck shortly after starting the stage. "It was really hard and a insane day". "We had two flat tires at the beginning and afterwards we took care because we didn't have any spares", al-Attiyah told the Dakar website. We lost pressure in one of the tires.

WRC legend Sebastien Loeb (pictured) enjoyed a first stage win of the year after going toe to toe with Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz for most of the day.

TreasuryOne Volkswagen Amarok privateer Hennie de Klerk enjoyed a positive day in the sand, bringing it home 37th for the day to move up one place to 33rd overall, while navigator Rob Howie was 16th after guiding Lucio Alvares home.

Briton Sunderland (Red Bull KTM), the defending champion, came back from a rough race on Sunday to finish first in the motorbike category for the second time in three stages and take a lead of almost five minutes over Argentina's Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda).

The rally's new overall leader is Frenchman Adrian van Beveren, who won the stage.

Santosh made a decision to play it safe and steady as the rally neared the halfway mark to finish the stage at 52nd position.

Wessel Bosman was the last of 114 surviving motorcycle competitors to finish Stage 5, and was also last in the overall standngs.

Hirvonen happy with the opening stages of the 2018 Dakar Rally