Overall leader Cyril Despres kept his composure to clinch Stage 9 of the Silk Way Rally.
The experienced Frenchman and his co-driver David Castera completed the 719km trek from Ürümqi to Hami in a winning time of 3 hours, 38 minutes and 42 seconds.
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena endured a frustrating day as their Peugeot got stuck in the sand. The pair lost precious time but eventually came home second, 5 minutes and 19 seconds behind the winner.
Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret finished third while Yazeed Al Rahji just missed out on a podium finish. This result still sees the Mini driver leapfrog team-mates Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhilstov into third place in the overall standings.
Russia’s Airat Mardeev reigned supreme in the trucks category. The Kamaz driver crossed the finish line in an impressive time of 3 hours, 58 minutes and 26 seconds, enough to beat compatriot Eduard Nikolaev by 8 minutes and 58 seconds.
Dmitry Sotnikov and Anton Shibalov finished third and fourth respectively while Maarte Van Den Brink had to settle for fifth place.
The Dutch driver now leads the overall standings by 1 minute and 41 seconds from nearest rival Mardeev going into stage 10.