Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel won the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally to move to the top of the overall standings in the race.
Peterhansel put in a strong show on the stage to take the lead
The Frenchman, driving a Mitsubishi, clocked eight hours, 21 minutes and 57 seconds over the 660km stage.
Peterhansel now leads team-mate and fellow Frenchman Luc Alphand by 21 minutes and 32 seconds.
France's David Fretigne, riding a Yamaha, won the motorcycle stage but Marc Coma regained the overall lead.
Peterhansel, who has been battling a heavy cold, said: "I feel a lot happier than I did a few days ago.
"I think I can drive even faster and find a better rhythm. The first part of the stage was very quick but not very
Fretigne clocked nine hours, 16 minutes and 26 seconds to finish ahead of KTM riders Coma and France's Cyril Despres.
Coma now holds a lead of 16 seconds in the overall standings over Despres.
"It was very hard with all the camel grass, it was really tough to ride," said Fretigne.
"We couldn't go very fast, and it was very difficult on a technical point of view. I rode at my maximum level on the camel
grass and it worked. I had only one little fall, but the bike worked perfectly well."
On Friday, the eighth stage sees competitors facing a 538km stage to Tidjikja, still in Mauritania, with a 520km timed section.
Thursday's stage results:
1. Stephane Peterhansel (Fra), Mitsubishi, eight hours, 21minutes, 57 seconds.
2. Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (Qat), BMW, 25:40 behind.
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (Ger), Volkswagen, 26:07
4. Luc Alphan (Fra), Mitsubishi, 28:11
5. Hiroshi Masuoka (Jpn) Mitsubishi, 42:30.
1. Stephane Peterhansel (Fra) Mitsubishi, 17:51:47.
2. Luc Alphan (Fra), Mitsubishi, 21:32 behind.
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (Ger), Volkswagen, 22:44.
4. Nasser Saleh al Attiyah (Qat), BMW, 22:53.
5. Hiroshi Masuoka, Japan, Mitsubishi, 3:30:00.
1. David Fretigne (Fra) Yamaha 9 hours 16 minutes 26 seconds.
2. Marc Coma (Spa) KTM 4:31 behind
3. Cyril Despres (Fra) KTM 5:22
4. Alfie Cox (RSA) KTM 7:25
5. Andy Caldecott (Aus) KTM 7:35
1. Marc Coma (Spa) KTM 18 hours 18 minutes 21 seconds
2. Cyril Despres (Fra) KTM 16 seconds behind
3. Andy Caldecott (Aus) KTM 5:40
3. Alfie Cox (RSA) KTM 5:40
5. Fabrizio Meoni (Ita) KTM 7:32