Loeb out, Toyotas fight back as Dakar takes its toll

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Peugeot driver Stephane Peterhansel in action in the 2018 Dakar Rally.

It was a nice day for team Peugeot which managed to clock the top three for the second time in this race with Stephane Peterhansel still leading the charge, six minutes ahead of Loeb.

"I'm not going to gain time by losing stages", said Loeb, who is aiming to win the prestigious off-road event for the first time. "We tried to put air back in and we were stuck again for 30 or 20 minutes".

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With the WRC legend ruled out, his Peugeot teammates Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz were left standing as the two frontrunners in the vehicle class, and it was the former who bolstered his chances with a strong time through Wednesday's test. He finished the stage at 33 position, which placed him at 24 position in the overall rankings.

Sainz, having got stuck in the dunes early on, was 18 minutes down at the finish line, and now trails Peterhansel by over half an hour in the general classification.

De Villiers posted the third-fastest time on the stage, about five minutes ahead of Sainz, despite suffering a puncture mid-stage.

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Walkner, who is now third in the overall standings, said: "I lost a lot of time and had many crashes in the soft dunes". We lost pressure in one of the tyres. Nasser Al-Attiyah, had a bummer of a day with his Gazoo Toyota getting stuck in the dunes twice making him lose nearly an hour in terms of overall standings.

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.

In the motorbike race, Spain's Joan Barreda Bort of Honda clocked 3:19:42 to win the stage, but Frenchman Adrien van Beveren of Yahama still leads the overall classification despite a disappointing fifth place on Wednesday.

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"It was a very hard day". The KTM rider has been transported by medical helicopter to the bivouac after being ruled out of finishing the fourth stage.

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