Peterhansel braced for Rankings jump
Stephane Peterhansel remains on course to secure a huge rise in the Castrol EDGE Rankings after setting the pace through the first eight stages of the 2012 Dakar Rally.
The Frenchman, a winner of Dakar on two and four wheels, is currently ranked 924th overall following his exploits in last year’s rally, in which he finished as the top non-Volkswagen driver in fourth, 1h43m off winner Nasser Al-Attiyah.
He should jump into the top 700 however should he be able to convert his current lead, which stands at 7m36s over the Hummer of Robby Gordon, into a victory when the rally reaches Lima, Peru, on Sunday 15 January.
Peterhansel has led all but two stages of this year’s rally, trailing Mini team-mates Leonid Novitskiy after stage one and Krzysztof Holowczyc after stage three.
After extending his lead to over 11 minutes on stage seven, the Frenchman could only finish fourth fastest on the following stage, and was subsequently closed down by Holowczyc, Gordon and the third Mini of Nani Roma.
Nasser Al-Attiyah, last year’s winner, meanwhile lies sixth, 45 minutes down on Peterhansel, after being beset by mechanical issues in the opening stages.
With a high rankings points total to defend from last year, should he be unable to make further inroads on the leaders, and in particular the Mini hegemony, he could slip out of the world’s top 350 drivers.
His Hummer team-mate Robby Gordon, the man currently leading the fight against Peterhansel, is likely to move in the opposite direction.
Gordon gained just 100 points in the Castrol EDGE Rankings after retiring from last year’s race before the start of stage four.
Should he maintain his current form and finish second he will be on course for a huge points rise which could see him break into the top 350, potentially replacing Al-Attiyah as the highest-ranked Dakar driver competing this year.