Johannesburg - Despite finishing third in the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally, South Africa's Giniel de Villiers and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz retained their second place overall on Wednesday.
The stage began in Chilecito, Argentina, and ended in Copiapo, in northern Chile.
Race leaders Nasser-Al-Attiyah of Qatar and his teammate Frenchman Mathieu Baumel were back to their best, winning the stage and widening the gap between themselves and the South African Toyota team to over eight minutes.
Toyota's other South African team of Leeroy Poulter and co-driver Robert Howie enjoyed a far better race than the previous day, finishing in ninth place and leaping seven places in the rankings into 14th place overall.
South Africa's Nissan Prodakar team, Johan van Staden and Mark Lawrenson, also moved up the leaderboard into 34th place overall, despite finishing the stage at 43.
Leading South African biker Riaan van Niekerk had his best finish in 15th place, however, he dropped one spot to 16 overall.
Spain's Joan Barreda Bort won the bike stage, for the second time since the rally began, and still tops the bike standings overall with a 13-minute gap between him and his nearest rival, compatriot Marc Coma.
South African quad rider Willem Saaijman moved into the top 20, finishing the stage 22nd and climbing two spots to 19th overall.
The off-road endurance race, formerly known as the Paris-Dakar Rally, moved to South America in 2009 and runs through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. The 14-day rally finishes in Buenos Aires on January 17.