Qatari Nasser al-Attiyah won the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday to increase his overall lead. However he could face a time penalty after a review of whether al-Attiyah went through all the control points on a shortened 178-kilometer stage between San Rafael and Mendoza in Argentina.
Al-Attiyah posted a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes to finish ahead 5:07 ahead of Giniel de Villiers of South Africa.
Sprint Cup driver Robby Gordon finished Stage 6 in 2 hours, 44 minutes, ninth-best. He remained seventh overall, 1 hour, 19 minutes behind Al-Attiyah.
If the times are confirmed, al-Attiyah now has a lead of 7 minutes, 31 seconds over de Villers and 15:10 over Spain's Carlos Sainz, who finished fourth on Thursday.
Al-Attiyah, who retook the lead on Wednesday, said he intentionally missed a waypoint in order to avoid the dunes; his car's engine was overheating.
Organizers reduced the day's timed section after impassable river ford forced them to shorten the route. The timed stage from San Rafael to Mendoza originally was scheduled to be 395 kilometers.
After 14 stages covering the 9,574-kilometer (5,950-mile) circuit, the race will finish on Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires.
Friday's route is a 419-kilometer drive from Mendoza to Valparaiso.
The Dakar Rally is being broadcast on Versus, with daily updates on RobbyGordon.com.
• Meanwhile there was criticism of the organizers over the death of French motorcyclist Pascal Terry, with authorities saying he could have been saved if he had been discovered earlier.
Terry, 49, had gone missing during the second stage between Santa Rosa and Puerto Madryn in the province of Chubut on Sunday. His body was found in the early hours of Wednesday.
Police official Julio Acosta told the Telam news agency: "He could have been saved if he had been rescued in time and if we had been alerted sufficiently in advance to begin our search."
Acosta said Terry "died of a pulmonary oedema, which caused a respiratory and cardiac arrest."
Etienne Lavigne, director of the Dakar rally, said that an internal malfunction at the Amaury Sports Organization, which organizes the event, was responsible for the search beginning too late.
French daily Liberation quoted Lavigne as saying, "There was a problem in the chain of communication." Liberation says that as a result 12 hours were lost before the search for Terry began.
In addition, because they believed, erroneously, that Terry had been seen in Neuquen, the finish of the fourth stage, the search was interrupted for several hours.
Local police and justice officials have opened an investigation into Terry's death. - nascar.com