Stephane Peterhansel extended his record of Dakar Rally stage victories to 54, winning Sunday's 472-kilometer run down the Chilean coast from Antofagasta to Copiapo.
Peterhansel's victory moved him up to fourth in the overall standings, displacing his BMW teammate Guerlain Chicherit.
"This was a very difficult stage and we had to drive so carefully on the rocks to avoid problems," said Peterhansel. "There was also a lot of navigation, difficult navigation as well.
"We also found the dunes at the end tricky to get past, especially since we didn't stop to let the tires down a bit. Since we had high tire pressure for the stones, we had to cross the dunes with 3 kilos, which isn't simple."
Carlos Sainz retained the overall lead for Volkswagen with second today, 45 seconds behind Peterhansel and 22 seconds ahead of America's Mark Miller. Last year's winner Giniel de Villiers came home fourth, ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah, who kept his second place overall behind Sainz.
"Between Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and Carlos [Sainz] it's a real battle for first place," Peterhansel added. "We can't have a say in that fight because we're still too far behind. But we keep on picking up the specials and trying our best."
Today's stage will take the crews another 300km south from Copiapo to La Serena, the last stage in Chile's Atacama desert.Stage eight:
Pos Driver Car Gap
1. Stephane Peterhansel BMW 5h06m05s
2. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen +45s
3. Mark Miller Volkswagen +1m07s
4. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen +4m01s
5. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen +4m17s
6. Orlando Terranova Mitsubishi +7m15s
7. Carlos Sousa Mitsubishi +21m10s
8. Guerlain Chicherit Bmw +22m04s
9. Krzysztof Holowczyc Nissan +25m32s
10. Robby Gordon Hummer +36m59s
Overall standings:Pos Driver Car Gap
1. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen 31h28m13s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen +14m35
3. Mark Miller Volkswagen +22m28
4. Stephane Peterhansel BMW +2h02m25s
5. Guerlain Chicherit BMW +2h24m13s
6. Krzysztof Holowczyc Nissan +2h45m45s
7. Carlos Sousa Mitsubishi +3h29m23s
8. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi +4h04m12s
9. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen +4h34m49s
10. Robby Gordon Hummer +5h01m24s