Despite losing further ground on stage four, the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team managed to stay in touch with the dominant Peugeot outfit on Tuesday by retaining three places in the top 10 at the Dakar Rally.
Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke was the fastest on the day for the local team, taking eighth place, though he was more than 40 minutes off the pace of Frenchman Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot) who was fastest over the 330km timed section in Peru.
Ten Brinke climbed to fifth place in the general classification, while Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar took 11th position on the stage, slipping to fourth place overall, nearly an hour behind race leader Stephane Peterhansel.
It was a tough day out for South African contender Giniel de Villiers, who settled for 17th spot on the stage, dropping to eighth overall.
Meanwhile, Argentine driver Lucio Alvarez and South African navigator Rob Howie continued their impressive comeback after rolling their Toyota vehicle on day two, claiming seventh on the stage as they settled in 20th place in the standings.
All four SA riders were still in the race in the bike division, led by David Thomas who was lying 51st on his Husqvarna, though he was more than three hours behind French leader Adrien van Beveren.
Wednesday’s fifth stage includes a 666km liaison section, followed by a 268km special, starting in San Juan de Marcona and finishing in Arequipa.