Nasser Al-Attiyah leads this year's Dakar Rally for the first time after victory on Monday's stage moved him ahead of Volkswagen teammate Carlos Sainz.
Sainz had led the rally since the opening stage but went into today's 508km run from Antofagasta to Copiapo – the longest of the event so far – just 1m22s ahead of Al-Attiyah. The Spaniard led again until he ran in trouble in the last 5km, twice getting his Touareg stuck on sand dunes and having to dig out.
The delays gave Al-Attiyah his third the stage victory by six and a half minutes and an overall lead of more than five.
"In the last section of dunes we were pushing at a maximum because that was where we had to take the time from Sainz," Al-Attiyah said. "I'm quite happy to win the stage, quite happy.
"It was a difficult stage because I was opening all the way, but the dunes are my favorite terrain and I was really pushing to the limit. I'm happy to win the stage and take the lead in the general standings. I can control the race now."
Sainz still finished the day second but was frustrated by the time lost.
"I hope today will have been our worst day on the Dakar," he said. "At the end, we got stuck in the dunes twice and both times we had to get out and dig. Sometimes everything's fine, other times it's not as good.
"We'll just have to keep on going. We need to attack. On a rally, each stage is long and hard. We'll see what happens. Obviously, I've lost some time, but the rally isn't over – there are still other stages left."
Giniel de Villiers and Mark Miller completed a sweep of the first four by Volkswagen, with Nani Roma's Nissan the best of the rest in fifth.
Meanwhile, BMW's Stephane Peterhansel's rally went from bad to worse today. Having lost close to 10 minutes to the leading Volkswagens on each of the last two stages due mainly to punctures, he was struck by overheating problems and lost more than an hour. Peterhansel had more punctures early in the stage by had to drive the last 100km with caution due to an overheating engine, and has slipped to fourth overall behind de Villiers.
"Just for a change, we got a puncture right at the start – but it was nothing compared to what happened afterward," Peterhansel said. "We had a problem with the engine overheating. We had to make a quick fix on the fan and stop regularly to add water to the radiator.
"Over the last 150km we must have lost an hour and a half. We had three punctures as well today, so we've finished without a spare wheel. One more and it would've been curtains for us."
Krzysztof Holowczyc's BMW also hit trouble, with electrical and then power steering failures. He eventually finished the day in 11th place, more than two hours behind the leaders.