Nasser Al-Attiyah led a Volkswagen 1-2-3 on the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally, the Qatari reducing the gap to teammate Carlos Sainz once again.
Al-Attiyah took his third stage victory of this year's event in the 338-km special from Copiapo to La Serena, beating leader Sainz by nearly six minutes to reduce the gap to the Spaniard to less than nine in the overall standings.
"After yesterday, I said I must take six minutes from Carlos because if he gains time over me today, then the team might start giving team orders and I don't need team orders," said Al-Attiyah. "Now, victory is possible, we have an eight-minute gap, I think. The fight continues.
"I'm here to win the race and I will try to do my best. Tomorrow, the stage will be like the WRC with no sand. On this type of stage, opening the road won't be a problem.
"Today, I made the difference in the sand. From the start, I really pushed a lot. First I caught up with [Giniel] de Villiers, then with [Mark] Miller. I'm very happy because I've never pushed so hard like that in my life – never."
It was the sixth victory for Al-Attiyah in his Dakar career after the VW driver dominated the day, setting the fastest time in all the control points. Sainz was second ahead of last year's winner de Villiers, as the German manufacturer continued with its domination of the event.
American Miller, in another works Volkswagen Touareg, finished in fifth behind BMW's Guerlain Chicherit to keep third place in the standings, already 27 minutes behind Sainz.
Stephane Peterhansel could only manage sixth in today's special after he was stuck in the sand at the 95km mark, but the Frenchman kept fourth place in the overall standings, albeit over two hours behind.Pos Driver Car Gap
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen 1h59m28s
2. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen 5m59s
3. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen 7m38s
4. Guerlain Chicherit BMW 10m13s
5. Mark Miller Volkswagen 10m48s
6. Stephane Peterhansel BMW 17m26s
7. Nicolas Misslin Mitsubishi 19m54s
8. Leonid Novitskiy BMW 20m15s
9. Carlos Sousa Mitsubishi 21m03s
10. Orlando Terranova Mitsubishi 30m08sPos Driver Car Gap
1. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen 33h33m40s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen 8:36s
3. Mark Miller Volkswagen 27:17s
4. Stephane Peterhansel Bmw 2h13m52s
5. Guerlain Chicherit Bmw 2h28m27s
6. Carlos Sousa Mitsubishi 3h44m27s
7. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen 4h36m28s
8. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi 5h15m42s
9. Leonid Novitskiy Bmw 5h30m58s
10. Robby Gordon Hummer 5h34m20s