Peterhansel extends Dakar advantage, Benavides leads the bikes

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Dakar Rally

(Reuters) - Stephane Peterhansel extended his Dakar Rally lead in Saudi Arabia on Thursday in a fifth stage won by South African Giniel De Villiers.

The Frenchman, known as 'Mr Dakar' for his record 13 wins on two wheels and four, was third on the 456km stage from Riyadh to Al Qaisumah with closest rival Nasser Al-Attiyah fourth in a Toyota.

Peterhansel now leads the Qatari, a triple Dakar winner, by six minutes and 11 seconds.

Spain's defending champion Carlos Sainz, Peterhansel's Mini team mate, remained third overall but trailing the leader by 48 minutes after ending the stage ninth.

"Since the beginning things really were not going our way, but today everything seemed to click," said Toyota's De Villiers, Dakar winner with Volkswagen in 2009 when the event was held in South America.

"This morning we went a little bit wrong, but not too serious. Then we just had to manage a slow puncture which we had to inflate. The last 120k in the dunes was really, really difficult."

Compatriot and team mate Brian Baragwanath was second on the stage.

In the motorcycle category, Argentine Kevin Benavides won the stage and took the lead despite falling and suffering a suspected broken nose.

The Honda rider finished almost eight minutes ahead of overnight leader Xavier De Soultrait, on a Husqvarna, to lead by two minutes and 31 seconds overall.

Including the prologue, he was the sixth different leader of this year's event.

"On one dune I jumped, a big jump, and I crashed because I hit another big one with the front wheel... I cut myself too and started to lose a lot of blood. There was also some pain around my ankle," said Benavides.

"In the end, I continued and kept pushing with a lot of pain, so, yeah, it was really hard for me today. My nose is broken and also I broke the helmet... I think I’ll be OK for tomorrow. I’m in pain, but it will be OK."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)