Giniel de Villiers consolidated his second place overall in the Dakar Rally after finishing fourth in the 10th stage of the race in Argentina on Tuesday.

The South African, who won the gruelling event in 2009, and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz lost ground on overall leaders Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France, who were 52 minutes ahead, but they stretched the gap to more than 16 minutes over third-placed Russians Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov.

“After our exciting Monday, we enjoyed a comparatively quiet day (on Tuesday),” De Villiers said.

“It was a good feeling, particularly as (today) sees us head into the dunes around Fiambala.

“Although we were slightly hampered by Robby Gordon’s dust, we are pleased we managed to extend the gap to third place.

“It gives us a useful cushion between us and the next car.”

Meanwhile, Sarel van Biljon, who had seemingly withdrawn after struggling to complete the ninth stage, pushed ahead in the quads division.

Van Biljon had overcome torrid conditions to win the eighth stage in his category on Saturday, climbing to third overall ahead of the rest day at the midweek stage of the race.

He fell out of contention, however, and while he was 23rd in the 10th stage, he received penalties, dropping 20 positions in the standings and losing more than 14 hours on overall leader Marcos Patronelli of Argentina after a disastrous ride the previous day.

In the bikes division, Riaan van Niekerk retained 14th place overall, taking 20th for the stage, while Darryl Curtis was 24th across the line, dropping back another position to 18th overall.

Brett Cummings continued to rise in the standings, completing the stage in 29th and climbing four spots overall to 56th.

After a slow start to the race, Van Niekerk has climbed 34 positions in the last six stages of the race. – Sapa