Stephane Peterhansel took over the lead of the Dakar Rally following the second stage on Monday, while Nasser Al-Attiyah went fastest to climb from 38th to sixth overall.
Peterhansel, who has nine Dakar wins to his name on four and two wheels, began the stage third in the standings behind his X-raid Mini teammates Leonid Novitskiy and Krzysztof Holowczyc. But he completed the 180-mile timed section of the 483-mile stage from Santa Rosa de la Plata to San Rafael in 2h48m12s, and this was easily enough to turn a 9-second deficit into an overall lead of 2m28s.
It appeared that this would be enough to give him a stage win, but he had not bargained on Al-Attiyah, who lost 9m50s to engine problems on stage one, completing the day's running 54-seconds faster than anybody else.
Al-Attiyah's drive brought his Robby Gordon-run Hummer to within 8m47s of Peterhansel's lead, although with four drivers between himself and the Frenchman.
Al-Attiyah's team boss Gordon was third fastest on the stage, 2m42s slower than the Qatari, and moved into second place overall as a result, 2m28s behind Peterhansel. Robby had been fastest at the first checkpoint, but ran into problems later on in the stage.
"Last night we were given the road book for the bikes, not the cars, so we got lost trying to find a couple of the checkpoints," said Gordon at the stage finish. "And then later on, we were in the dust of [Giniel] de Villiers, and I clobbered a rock, so we got a puncture that we had to change and lost some time."
Holowczyc dropped to third in his Mini, 5sec behind Gordon, with Toyota driver de Villiers fourth, a further 1m16s back. Nani Roma (Mini) climbed to fifth with Guilherme Spinelli (Mitsubishi) a spot behind Al-Attiyah in seventh.
Overnight leader Novitskiy dropped over 11 minutes to Peterhansel, causing the Russian to drop back to eighth spot.
Christian Lavieille, seventh overnight, broke down 40 miles into the stage, the Dessoude driver losing more than 45 minutes as he attempted repairs that would keep him in the rally.
Leading positions after stage two:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Stephane Peterhansel Mini 3h20m33s
2. Robby Gordon Hummer + 2m28s
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc Mini + 2m33s
4. Giniel de Villiers Toyota + 3m49s
5. Nani Roma Mini + 5m32s
6. Nasser Al-Attiyah Hummer + 8m47s
7. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi + 11m07s
8. Leonid Novitskiy Mini + 11m17s
9. Ricardo Leal dos Santos Mini + 14m41s
10. Lucio Alvarez Toyota + 15m22s