For the third year, the Dakar rally is being held in South America, looping for 9,500 km through Argentina and Chile with its start and finish in Buenos Aires.
There are no Canadians entered in the bike category this year, and only one is in a car; Conor Malone of Toronto.
After two days, 2010 winner Cyril Despres of France is leading the bike division on his KTM, two minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Spanish team-mate Marc Coma, who was 15th last year.
Portuguese Ruben Faria, another of the factory KTM riders, is third after a penalty for speeding in a controlled zone dropped him from first place.
Despres claimed his 25th Dakar stage victory on the day, saying, "Today the track was full of bends and very skiddy, like a 300-km giant slalom with jumps, like skiing. I noticed at the refuelling point that I’d taken almost a minute less than Coma. I was feeling good, so I decided to attack a bit in the second part, though I was careful to look after my tires because I nearly wore them through today."
On the car side of things, last year’s winner Carlos Sainz of Spain, driving a Volkswagen, took the overall lead while adding a second stage win to make his Dakar tally 25 in all. He’s ahead of Stéphane Peterhansel in a BMW X3.
Conor Malone is in 131st spot out of 156 entries, not bad for a total rookie: "My goal is to finish," says Malone, "I know I won’t beat the Volkswagens but finishing is fairly realistic. If I finish it’s like a win."