Dakar: One day after team orders, Peterhansel takes control in Stage 12 (VIDEO)

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Problems for Nani Roma opened the door for Stephane Peterhansel to take the overall car lead in Stage 12 of the Dakar Rally one day after his Mini team had told him to end his fight against the Spaniard.

In an attempt to pull off a podium sweep in the category, Mini told its drivers yesterday to hold position with Roma in first, Peterhansel in second and Nasser Al-Attiyah in third. But today, Roma suffered a tire puncture early on and later on got briefly stuck in a dune on the route to La Serena, Chile.

Now, after a bizarre afternoon, Peterhansel holds a 26-second overall lead over Roma with the final stage coming tomorrow.

“Nasser started behind me and after one hundred kilometers, he was close to me, so I stopped and he passed and just afterwards, we overtook Nani – I think he had a puncture because he was really slow,” Peterhansel said.

“At the end, I stopped on the dunes to show him that if he wanted to he could go past, but he didn’t want to open the way on the dunes. So I opened on the dunes and finished very calmly.”

However, Peterhansel believes that Mini’s team orders remain in play even with the shuffling of positions, telling Agence France-Presse that “the instructions will perhaps be reissued tonight and we will listen to them.”

Al-Attiyah finished second behind Peterhansel today by three minutes, 38 seconds to keep grip on the final podium spot as the end of the rally draws near.

In the bikes, 2013 class champ Cyril Despres remained white-hot in this second week of racing, claiming the stage win by two minutes, 17 seconds over current overall leader Marc Coma.

Barring a massive breakdown, Coma has a clean shot to the championship tomorrow after his closest rival, Joan Barreda, tumbled from the runner-up position following a dreadful day.

Barreda’s Honda team reports that he crashed at the 264-kilometer mark and the Dakar website said that following electrical problems emerging on his bike, he was forced to stop several times after that point and finished the special on foot – almost two-and-a-half hours behind Despres.

With that, Barreda has lost out on a podium finish, tumbling to seventh in the overall. Meanwhile, Jorge Viladoms now leads a tight battle for P2 behind Coma; he is almost two hours off Coma’s pace, but is up just 10 minutes, 27 seconds on third-place Olivier Pain, while Despres, in fourth, only sits an additional 3 minutes, 45 seconds off of Pain.

It also appears smooth sailing for Chile’s own Ignacio Casale, who looks ready to claim the big trophy in the quads. Casale earned the win today by five minutes, five seconds over Sebastian Husseini, and now leads overall over Rafal Sonik by a margin of 1 hour, 23 minutes, 42 seconds.

In the trucks, a close finish awaits for Andrey Karginov and Gerard de Rooy, who erased 31 seconds from his deficit during his win today over the Russian. Still, Karginov holds the top spot overall over de Rooy by 7 minutes, 25 seconds.

Only tomorrow’s 157-kilometer route from La Serena to Valparaiso remains left to conquer.

Hartley’s F1 grid penalty streak continues in Abu Dhabi

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Brendon Hartley’s record of receiving a grid penalty at every Formula 1 race he has started is set to continue in Abu Dhabi this weekend after Toro Rosso was forced to change part of his Renault power unit following the last race in Brazil.

Since making his F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix last month, Hartley has faced a grid drop at all three races he has started so far amid ongoing reliability difficulties for power unit supplier Renault.

After being forced to retire from the last race in Brazil two weeks ago due to an engine issue, Hartley has received a 10-place grid penalty for Abu Dhabi after it was confirmed Toro Rosso had changed the MGU-H on his power unit.

Hartley is yet to score any points in F1, having retired from two of his three races so far to make his debut run to P13 in Austin his best result to date.

The Toro Rosso driver finished 20th in FP1 and 19th in FP2 during Friday’s practice sessions in Abu Dhabi as he continued to get to grips with the Yas Marina Circuit.