Bad weather stopped play at the Dakar Rally on Wednesday, with heavy rain swelling rivers, preventing competitors from completing the day's special Stage 11 between La Rioja and Fiambala in Argentina.
The organisers were forced to halt the already shortened 190-kilometre special stage with Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz leading at the 110-kilometre mark in their South African-built Imperial Toyota Hilux.
But the race officials declared the stage result as per the positions at the earlier CP1 (control point one) at the 67-kilometre mark, giving the win to the Americans Robbie Gordon and Kellon Walch in a Hummer ahead of Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot of France in an SMG Buggy and Argentinian duo Lucio Alvarez and Roland Graue in a South African-built customer Toyota Hilux.
De Villiers and German co-driver Von Zitzewitz had to settle for a disappointing fifth place ahead of race leaders Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France in a Mini.
"Giniel started slowly to protect the tyres in the rocks but once in the big dunes Dirk gave perfect direction and Giniel kept an accurate heading," said Toyota Imperial South Africa team manager Glyn Hall. "When the race was stopped he had reached waypoint 11, 110km into the special, 10 minutes ahead of the field and 16 minutes faster than Peterhansel."
"It's a pity what happened today, because we were first on the road," said De Villiers. "We'd passed Robbie and Stephane. It was not a lucky break for us."
The top three positions in the general classification with three days remaining of the 8500-kilometre marathon rally between Lima in Peru and Santiago in Chile are: 1 Peterhansel/Cottret (Mini) 29 hr 7 min 25 sec, 2 De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) +51.59 sec, 3 Novitskiy/Zhiltsov (Mini) +1 hr 26 min 40 sec.