AFP

Hirvonen claims victory on stage 12 by just nine seconds

Hirvonen claims victory on stage 12 by just nine seconds

15/01/2016 at 22:52

Mikko Hirvonen claimed victory in the 12th stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally cars race by just nine seconds from Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Hirvonen beat his Mini team-mate by the tiny margin to claim his first stage victory - but it came only after Toyota driver Leeroy Poulter suffered a late mishap to see a healthy lead slow him down.

Poulter ended up third, 45 seconds back, on what was the longest day of the rally: over 900km from San Juan to Villa Carlos Paz, some 481km of which was the mountainous timed special stage section.

Stephane Peterhansel is essentially guaranteed to claim overall victory barring a major accident on Saturday's final stage.

The Frenchman has an advantage of 40 minutes 59 seconds over second-placed Qatari Al-Attiyah, with Giniel de Villiers of South Africa 1:07.16 back in third place.

In the bike race, Helder Rodrigues won the stage by four minutes 32 seconds from overall leader Toby Price.

The biggest drama befell Price's team-mate Antoine Meo, however: the Frenchman fell late in the race despite supposedly riding conservatively as he helped guide Price home.

Meo struggled to the end of the stage despite an injured hand, but lost 38 minutes after his mishap.

Marcos Patronelli of Argentina won the quads stage to extend his overall lead, while Dutchman Pieter Versluis won the truck stage by three minutes 18 seconds from Federico Villagra.

Overall trucks leader Gerard De Rooy finished fifth, but has more than an hour and 13 minutes advantage going into Satuday's finale.

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