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Peterhansel clinches 12th victory at 2016 Dakar Rally

Stephane Peterhansel of France drives his Peugeot during the 11th stage of the Dakar Rally near San Juan, Argentina, January 14, 2016.
Stephane Peterhansel of France drives his Peugeot during the 11th stage of the Dakar Rally near San Juan, Argentina, January 14, 2016. Reuters/Marcos Brindicci

France's Dakar Rally legend Stéphane Peterhansel celebrated his 12th title on Saturday to give French manufacturer Peugeot their first win since 1990. The 50-year-old avoided any last-minute drama to safely cross the finish line of the closing 13th stage at Rio Cuarto on Saturday.

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The decisive moment came on Thursday at the 10th stage of the rally during his drive from Belen to La Rioja.

With his Peugeot teammate Carlos Sainz coming to a grinding halt 30 kilometres from the line, he ended the day a full one hour clear of last year's winner Nasser Al-Attiyah behind the wheel of a Mini.

As for stage pacesetter Sebastien Loeb, he hit problems during the second week, enabling Peterhansel to drive conservatively through the final days.

The concluding run back from Villa Carlos Paz was the same story, as Peterhansel came in seven and a half minutes slower than Loeb to seal outright victory by 34m58s from last year's winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, who came in second.

As for nine-time rally world champion Loeb, he finished ninth, whilst motorbike rider Toby Price became the first Australian to etch his name on the gruelling event's roll of honour, coming in at fourth place.

South African Giniel De Villiers driving a Toyota took third.

Peterhansel's love affair with rallying's Everest began in 1988.

He won the first of his six titles on two wheels in 1991 and his 11th victory behind the wheel of a Mini in 2013.

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