Stunning but challenging terrain in stage 12 of the Silk Way Rally the 666.9 km from Jiayuguan to Alashan in China.
For Frenchman Sebastian Loeb and Daniel Elena it was day of woe after the pair failed to meet two check points.
As a result organisers penalised the pair a massive four hours.
Loeb and Elena are now 10 th overall.
Race leaders Cyril Despres and David Castera, despite having clutch problems and losing third gear, won the stage for their fifth victory of the rally.
They retain the lead with two days to go until the finish in Beijing.
Despres admitted he had had a good day: “When you are in a rumble with Sebastian Loeb and he picks up a heavy penalty it means the end of the race will be easier for me, but we must remain focused.”
The Russians of Eduard Nikolaev, Evgenii Iakovlev and Vladimr Rybakov claimed the stage in the trucks.
The Russian team of Airat Mardeev, Ayday Belyaev and Dmitrii Svistunov lead the race overall.