Scot Colin McRae has retaken the lead of the Dakar Rally after winning the fifth stage in Morocco on Tuesday.
Peterhansel's hopes were hit by punctures on the rough terrain
The former world rally champion leapt up the leaderboard from 10th place on the 406-mile run from Agadir to Smara.
McRae's Nissan was six minutes and 15 seconds faster than team-mate Giniel de Villiers, who is second overall ahead of VW's Jutta Kleinschmidt.
Overnight leader Robby Gordon slipped to seventh overall after posting only the ninth fastest time on the stage.
McRae is now five minutes 28 seconds ahead of De Villiers, with Frenchman Luc Alphand third 6min 15secs off the lead.
Two of the favourites, Mitsubishi's Stephane Peterhansel and Hiroshi Masuoka suffered problems and are now a long way off the lead.
Peterhansel, whose car suffered several punctures, finished 24min 44secs off McRae's time, while Masuoka's transmission problems prevented him from even passing the second control point at 114 miles.
"We hit a rock that was hidden by some grass eight kilometres from the finish," said Masuoka.
"Then we were passed by a BMW and subsequently we couldn't use our windscreen wipers because they had run out of water.
"So we decided to slow down and I am confident we can make up the time in the desert stages later in the week," he added.
Australia's Andy Caldecott, riding a KTM, clocked 4hr 0min 9sec to finish 3sec ahead of Spain's Marc Coma and 3min 30sec in front of France's Cyril Despres in the motorbike race.
Caldecott is second overall, 43sec behind Coma,
who took over top spot from Frenchman David Fretigne.
Fretigne lost his way by following the tracks left by tourists and is now nearly 10 minutes adrift of Coma. Despres is third, 2min 46sec behind Coma.
In the sixth stage on Wednesday, competitors will face a 387-mile
run to Zouerat, Mauritania, which has a 306-mile timed section.
Tuesday's stage results:
1. Colin McRae (GB) Nissan 3 hours 37 minutes 14 seconds
2. Giniel De Villiers (SA) Nissan 6min 15secs behind
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (Ger) Volkswagen at 7:18
4. Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (Qat) BMW 7:20
5. Luc Alphand (Fra) Mitsubishi 8:15
6. Kenjiro Shinozuka (Jpn) Nissan 8:55
7. Bruno Saby (France) Volkswagen 9:44
8. Juha Kankkunen (Fin) Volkswagen 10:25
9. Robby Gordon (US) Volkswagen 12:47
10. Carlos Sousa (Por) Nissan 13:50
1. McRae 5 hours 7 minutes 24 seconds
2. De Villiers 5 mins 28 behind
3. Alphand at 6:01
4. Kleinschmidt 6:04
5. Saby 7:12
6. Al Attiyah 7:37
7. Gordon 9:01
1. Andy Caldecott (Aus) KTM 4 hours 9 seconds
2. Marc Coma (Spa) KTM 3 seconds behind
3. Cyril Despres (Fra) KTM 3:30
4. Alfie Cox (SA) KTM 5:59
5. Isidre Esteve Pujol (Spa) KTM 6:40
6. Fabrizio Meoni (Italy) KTM 7:44
1. Coma 4 hours 13 minutes 13 seconds
2. Caldecott 43 seconds behind
3. Despres 2:45
4. Cox 6:45
5. Esteve Pujol 6:52
6. Meoni 7:38