Stephane Peterhansel admitted Carlos Sainz had been 'too fast' on the third stage of the Dakar Rally after losing more time to the early leader.
While Sainz was second quickest behind Nasser Al-Attiyah on the 551km run from Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci, Peterhansel could manage only fifth quickest and now lies nearly nine minutes behind the Volkswagen man.
Multiple winner Peterhansel admitted that the opening three stages of the event hadn't been ideally suited to the new Racing Lancer as he struggled to match Sainz's pace but said he was hopeful that the more technical stages still to come would allow him to make up for lost time.
"If the route is like the organisers said, then the first three stages were very fast and then it becomes more difficult,” he said. “I hope that is true because we could be in a better position.
“Since the start I had no problems with the car but I struggled to follow Carlos Sainz this morning. He was too fast. I look forward to the more technical stages."
Team-mate Nani Roma lost time on the third stage due to a puncture late on but remains fifth overall, just over 14 minutes off the pace.
"I don't feel too bad about our position heading into the next group of stages,” he said. “I had a puncture near the end, but we are still in the chasing pack and I am quite happy with my position on the road for tomorrow."