Carlos Sainz celebrated his 20th career Dakar Rally stage victory on Wednesday and extended his overall lead as the event moved into Chile.
Sainz has now moved within two wins of Stephane Peterhansel's record 22, though it was the Frenchman who looked more likely to add to his tally early on in the day's running, which began at an altitude of 11,000ft in the Atacama Desert.
Peterhansel's BMW led through the 80km checkpoint, 15 seconds quicker than Sainz, but he was delayed by a puncture later in the day and slipped to third behind Sainz's Volkswagen teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah.
"It could've been a good day because we were in the lead at the intermediate points," said Peterhansel. "But we got a flat tire and had to change the wheel, which took two or three minutes. That's what we needed to win the stage.
"It means we're navigating well and we aren't having problems on high-altitude tracks either. So, even if it wasn't our strategy to be third for tomorrow, it hasn't turned out to bad in the end. By setting off in third we can gain back a handful of precious minutes."
Sainz was relieved to take the victory but insists he is not in a comfortable lead of the event despite his lead climbing above four minutes.
"There was some navigation work, a bit of off-track driving, but I think that it will be tomorrow when things will get serious," said Sainz. "Peterhansel, Al Attiyah and even [Giniel] de Viliers are dangerous rivals. We're very close to each other in the standings."
De Villiers was fourth on today's stage ahead of fellow Volkswagen runner Mark Miller, who moved back into the overall top 10. Orlando Terranova completed the top six in his BMW, cementing his place in sixth overall.
Meanwhile, Gordon's problematic run with his Team Hummer entry came to an early end when more mechanical problems caused him to be late to the special stage.
Gordon began the day 17th but had right-front wheel bearing issues before the start of the timed special, costing him about five hours. He completed the stage, but because he was late to the special, he was disqualified from the overall event. Gordon was one of six cars to withdraw Wednesday.
Stage four results:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Carlos Sainz, Volkswagen, 1h57m09s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah, Volkswagen, +50s
3. Stephane Peterhansel, BMW, +1m22s
4. Giniel de Villiers, Volkswagen, +2m17s
5. Mark Miller, Volkswagen, +2m43s
6. Orlando Terranova, BMW, +4m04s
7. Guerlain Chicherit Mini +4m38s
8. Krzysztof Holowczyc BMW +5m56s
9. Leonid Novitskiy, BMW, +10m35s
10. Guilherme Spinelli, Mitsubishi, +11m23s
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Carlos Sainz, Volkswagen, 11h09m14s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah, Volkswagen, +4m24s
3. Stephane Peterhansel, BMW, +5m41s
4. Giniel de Villiers, Volkswagen, +19m14s
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc, BMW, +27m45s
6. Orlando Terranova, BMW, +33m11s
7. Leonid Novitskiy, BMW, +49m40s
8. Guilherme Spinelli, Mitsubishi, +59m45s
9. Nani Roma, Nissan, +1h08m32s
10. Mark Miller, Volkswagen, +1h08m36s