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Having finished 14th in Saturday’s Prologue, Peterhansel had been running an impressive second in his electric Audi RS Q e-tron, just six seconds behind overall leader Nasser Al-Attiyah of Toyota.
But passing through a winding rocky track 153km into the stage near Ha’il, the Frenchman suffered an accident that broke the rear axle of his car. Both Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger were unhurt in the crash, but have been forced to call assistance trucks to repair the damage on their car.
Over 2h30m have passed since the accident was recorded at 11:40 local time, effectively ending Peterhansel’s hope of adding a record-extending 15th Dakar win to his impressive CV.
However, it is expected that Peterhansel will try to stay in the rally for as long as possible to continue developing the complex electric powertrain on Audi’s Dakar entry.
The 56-year-old is spearheading Audi’s return to cross-country rallying this year after spending the last three campaigns at X-Raid Mini, with his former teammate Carlos Sainz and two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom completing the three-car line-up.
Audi’s Dakar contender features three MGU units based on technologies it developed in Formula E as well a DTM-derived petrol engine used to charge batteries for longer stages.
More to follow
#200 Team Audi Sport: Stéphane Peterhansel, Edouard Boulanger, crash
Photo by: A.S.O.