Stephane Peterhansel looks set to keep the Dakar Rally lead as a flooded riverbed threw stage eight into chaos.
Peterhansel lost 12 minutes to the stage pacesetters after making a navigational mistake and having to double back, following the example of a number of bike competitors who had earlier gone off route.
"My first big mistake since the start of the rally," said Peterhansel, who ultimately travelled an additional five kilometers by the time he regained the course. "I insisted on following the motorcycle tracks but it was the wrong direction."
That would have put Nasser Al-Attiyah into the lead, but the Red Bull driver was one of many to fall foul of a swollen riverbed. Torrential rain had already resulted in the stage start point being changed, and conditions eventually became impossible.
"Everything was going smoothly for us, we were putting the pedal on the metal, and everything was fine," said Al-Attiyah. "When we got to the rio, there were three metres of water, there was no way we could cross that."
Only five cars made it to the finish, with Guerlain Chicherit setting the quickest time.
The organizers ultimately neutralized the stage at checkpoint two, and are now deciding which sections should count toward the result.
Whatever the outcome of the deliberations, it seems certain that Peterhansel will retain the overall lead heading into Sunday's halfway rest day.