Cyril Despres regained control of the Dakar rally on Tuesday following his stage 9 triumph from Antofagasta to Iquique.
With his third stage win this year the French three-time winner of the race holds a two minute and 28 second advantage on his main rival Marc Coma.
Spain’s Coma, who took the lead on Monday, was second on the day three minutes and 54 seconds back but he remains well in contention to defend his title.
Defending car champion Nasser Al Attiyah was forced out of the race when the 31-year-old Qatari suffered more mechanical failure with his Hummer.
American Robby Gordon in another Hummer won the stage to nibble away at Stephane Peterhansel’s overall lead.
Dakar legend Peterhansel – a six-time motorbike and three-time car champion – holds an advantage of almost six minutes on Gordon, a NASCAR veteran, entering the final five days of the race