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Peterhansel wins stage and takes overall lead at Dakar Rally

Jacky Naegelen / Reuters

France's Stephane Peterhansel and his co-pilot Jean-Paul Cottret of France drive their Mini Monster during the fourth stage of the fourth South American edition of the Dakar Rally 2012 from San Juan to Chilecito Jan. 4, 2012.

 

AP reports: CHILECITO, Argentina -Nine-time champion Stephane Peterhansel moved into first place in the Dakar Rally with a commanding victory in Wednesday's fourth stage.

The Frenchman, racing in a Mini, won the 326-kilometer (202-mile) special stage from San Juan to Chilecito in northwestern Argentina, a tricky drive featuring dried riverbeds, by more than five minutes.

The pre-race favorite, Peterhansel rose from fifth, and nearly three minutes behind, to first, and 5:41 up on the field.

He has won six times on motorbikes, and three in cars, and the stage win was his 58th.

Jerome Prevost / AFP - Getty Images

France's Olivier Pain rides his Yamaha during the Stage 4 of the 2012 Dakar Rally between San Juan, San Juan province and Chilecito, la Rioja province, Argentina, on Jan. 4, 2012. Spain's Marc Coma won the stage.

Bryn Lennon / Getty Images

Cyril Despres of France and Team Red Bull KTM arrives at the bivouac after stage four of the 2012 Dakar Rally from San Juan to Chilecito on Jan. 4, 2012 in Chilecito, Argentina.

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