Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel bounced back on Monday to move into the lead of the 36th Dakar Rally after the second stage from San Luis to San Rafael in Argentina.
Peterhansel, in a Mini, was down in sixth, 4min21sec behind overnight leader Carlos Sousa of Portugal after suffering a puncture on Sunday's opening stage.
The Frenchman, looking for a 12th Dakar title after six previous wins on motorcycles and five in cars, completed the 433km - in temperatures reaching 40 degrees - in 3hr 52min05, 46 seconds ahead of Spanish veteran Carlos Sainz and 5min34 a head of South Africa's Giniel De Villiers.
He now leads Buggy SMG driver Sainz by 28 seconds in the overall standings with his Mini team mate Nasser Al-Attiyah, who crashed three times on the mixed gravel and dunes timed sectionof Stage 2, in third, 4min10 off the pace.
Peterhansel was far more upbeat than he had been after Sunday's stage.
“It was a nice stage, really fast at the beginning because the average was more than 100km/h,” he said.
“It was a mix with a lot of fast tracks, then it was river-beds with a lot of rocks and the risk of getting a puncture.
“At the end there were also very nice dunes, but the navigation was easy in the dunes because there were a lot of people everywhere in the dunes.
“At the top of each dune, all we had to do was to follow the spectators, so it was easy to do the navigation.”
Sainz moved up after starting the day in fifth, more than four minutes down.
The former World Rally champion said: “I think it was a good stage. We didn't have any problems and we just went through very fast.
“Some parts were very fast, there were some difficult dunes as well, but everything was OK. We didn't have any punctures. I was a little bit careful to stop the tyres wearing.”
Argentinian Lucio Alvarez in the faster of the two ‘official’ South African-built Team Ford Rangers, finished ninth in Stage 2 and moved up to 38th overall after a disastrous first day, but his team mate Chris Visser was forced to withdraw, ending his maiden Dakar Rally after just two stages.
The Ranger was running well until they hit the treacherous Nihuil dunes, where it aunched over a dune and rolled heavily.
Visser incurred a neck injury as a result, and was evacuated by helicopter to the bivouac in San Rafael before being taken to the local hospital for X-rays, where the on-site medical team confirmed that he was alert and able to move.
Visser’s navigator Japie Badenhorst emerged shaken but unhurt, and expressed his disappointment at their Dakar dream coming to an end so soon.
De Villiers’ works Toyota team mate, Dakar rookie Leeroy Poulter, came home 16th for the day, 44 minutes behind the leaders, dropping him to 13th overall, while Toyota privateer Thomas Rundle was 37th on Stage 2 and 35th overall.
Briton Sam Sunderland won the day's 359km motorcycle stage on a Honda in 3hr 42min10, 39 seconds ahead of Chile's Francisco Lopez on a KTM and two minutes clear of Spain's Joan Barreda, also on a Honda.
Dubai-based Sunderland said: “There weren't so many dunes, maybe 50km or so, but it was definitely a lot of fun and a big mixture of terrains and different type of riding - some technical stuff, then some really high speed stuff,” said
“The bike was awesome. Hopefully I can carry on in this direction and have a good overall finish.”
Barreda said he'd had a troublesome ride in the final section.
However, he maintained his overall lead, 2min03 ahead of Lopez, with 24-year-old Sunderland, taking part in only his second Dakar afterr failing to finish in 2012, up to third, 2min33 behind the leader.
Barreda said: There wee a lot of boulders after one blind corner, and I hit one.
“It's possible that I broke something. The bike is not so badly broken at all, but part of the navigation system had a big impact on the boulder so it's completely broken.
“So I had to ride to the finish with one eye on the road-book. I lost a little bit of time, but it's an incredible job and I'm really happy.”
“I didn’t tap off!”
Top South African, KTM rider Riaan van Niekerk, had a great day, finishing 19th in the stage, 16min50 off the pace, moving him to 18th overall.
“This morning was just about a straight road for 40km,” he said.
“We refueled at 170km then another straight section for 60km, then into the dunes; navigation wasn’t too difficult, lots of spectators. It was very hot and a very long day.”
RESULTS – CARS: Stage 2
1 Stephane Peterhansel (France) Minic - 3hr 52min05
2 Carlos Sainz (Spain) +46sec
3 Giniel De Villiers (South Africa) Toyota +5min34
4 Nani Roma (Italy) Mini +7min25
5 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Mini +7min44
6 Orlando Terranova (Argentina) Mini +12min41
7 Ronan Chabot (France) Smg +14min03
8 Christian Lavieille (France) Hava +19min38
9 Lucio Alvarez (Argentina) Ford +26min00
10 Reinaldo Marques Varela (Brazil) Mitsubishi +28min06
16 Leeroy Poulter (South Africa) Toyota 44min34
37 Thomas Rundle (South Africa) Toyota 1hr 42min23
Chris Visser (South Africa) Ford - DNF
RESULTS – CARS: Overall after Stage 2
1 Stephane Peterhansel (France) Mini - 6hr 17min02
2 Carlos Sainz (Spain) SMG +28sec
3 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Mini +4min10
4 Nani Roma (Italy) Mini +4min19
5 Orlando Terranova (Argentina) Mini +8min31
6 Giniel De Villiers (South Africa) Toyota +17min10
7 Christian Lavieille (France) Haval +20min59
8 Reinaldo Marques Varela (Brazil) Mitsubishi +36m00
9 Krzysztof Holowczyc (Poland) Mini +37min08
10 Marek Dabrowski (Poland) Toyota +38min08
13 Leeroy Poulter (South Africa) Toyota 46min10
35 Thomas Rundle (South Africa) Toyota 2hr 09min09
RESULTS – MOTORCYCLES: Stage 2
1 Sam Sunderland (Britain) Honda - 3hr 42min10
2 Francisco Lopez Contardo (Chile) KTM +39sec
3 Joan Barreda Bort (Spain) Honda +2mikn00
4 Ruben Faria (Portugal) KTM +4min07
5 Alain Duclos (France) Sherco +5min51
6 Ben Grabham (Australia) KTM +7min15
7 David Casteu (France) KTM +7min27
8 Paulo Goncalves (Portugal) Honda +7min45
9 Marc Coma (Spain) KTM +8min23
10 Cyril Despres (France) Yamaha +8min43
19 Riaan van Niekerk (South Africa) KTM +16min50
51 Brett Cummings (South Africa) Honda +1hr 04min17
RESULTS – MOTORCYCLES: Overall after Stage 2
1 Joan Barreda Bort (Spain) Honda - 6hr 09min41
2 Francisco Lopez Contardo (Chile) KTM +2min03
3 Sam Sunderland (Britain) Honda +2min33
4 Alain Duclos (France) Sherco +5min47
5 Marc Coma (Spain) KTM +7min00
6 Ruben Faria (Portugal) KTM +7min18
7 Paulo Goncalves (Portugal) Honda +8min10
8 Cyril Despres (France) Yamaha +8min23
9 Ben Grabham (Australia) KTM +10min05
10 David Casteu (France) KTM +10:59
19 Riaan van Niekerk (South Africa) KTM +26min04
53 Brett Cummings (South Africa) Honda +1hr 29min40