While defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France in a Mini stretched their overall lead to 52 min 38 sec over the South African/German duo after finishing third on the special stage, the 2009 champions in their Imperial Toyota Hilux #301 extended their advantage over the Mini of third-placed Russians Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov to just over 16 minutes.
Wednesday’s special stage from La Rioja to Fiambala is a relatively short 217 kilometres sandwiched between a 256-kilometre opening liaison section and a 6-kilometre link to the overnight bivouac. It is without doubt the most feared stage on the Dakar and has been a significant day in each of the editions since the rally moved from Africa to South America in 2009. Forestry sections and some very fast stretches give way to the big white dunes of Fiambala and later a labyrinth of canyons and finally dry river beds on the final stretch to the end of the stage. Maximum concentration is required, by both driver and co-driver. Temperatures can rise to 40 degrees Centrigrade.