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Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah competes in the fourth stage of the 2018 Dakar rally in San Juan de Marcona, Peru, Jan. 9, 2018.
Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah competes in the fourth stage of the 2018 Dakar rally in San Juan de Marcona, Peru, Jan. 9, 2018.

Peruvian desert takes toll on Dakar favorites

Tuesday's fourth stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally saw more favorites cut down, as defending motorbike champion Sam Sunderland was forced to abandon with an injury…

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Tuesday's fourth stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally saw more favorites cut down, as defending motorbike champion Sam Sunderland was forced to abandon with an injury and driver Cyril Despres, who started the day No. 2 in the car category, suffered an accident that threatened to end his race.

The stage was expected to be the toughest of the five days competitors must spend in the Peruvian desert and it lived up to that billing.

The departure of British defending champion Sunderland (KTM) and the likely elimination of Frenchman Despres (Peugeot) came after Spaniard Nani Roma and US driver Bryce Menzies - both competing for Mini - crashed out of the race.

Sunderland's misfortune redounded to the benefit of Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha), who won Tuesday's stage to take the overall lead in the bike race.

In the car category, Despres found himself stranded in the middle of the desert, while Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) lost an hour after picking up two punctures.

Sebastien Loeb, one of Despres' Peugeot teammates, finished first to climb to first place in the general classification, followed by two other Peugeot drivers, Carlos Sainz Sr. and Stephane Peterhansel.

In the quad race, Chile's Ignacio Casale failed to win the stage for just the first time in the 2018 rally, but he remains first overall.

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