Former winner Carlos Sainz claimed the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally and the overall lead on Wednesday with defending champion Stephane Peterhansel of France in second.
SMG Buggy driver Sainz, the 2010 Dakar champion, finished more than six minutes ahead of Frenchman Peterhansel, an 11-time winner on four wheels and two, with Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah, the 2011 victor, coming home third on the run from San Juan to Chilecito in Argentina.
It was Sainz's 26th career stage win on the gruelling event and gave him an overall advantage of 2min 06sec on overnight leader Nani Roma in a Mini. Al-Attiyah, also in a Mini, is 6min 56sec behind Sainz.
Peterhansel clawed back a few minutes after a disastrous third stage on Tuesday when he suffered six punctures in his Mini, but he remains 18min 10sec behind Sainz.
In the motorcycle section, Spain's Juan Pedrero took the stage honours while Frenchman Cyril Despres, the defending champion and seeking a sixth career title, endured an engine breakdown on his Yamaha which relegated him to 41 min 17 sec behind overall leader Joan Barreda on a Honda.
Despres had been second in the standings, but he needed to stop for more than half an hour to fix the engine problem, believed to have been an electrical fault.