Stephane Peterhansel is on the verge of an 11th Dakar Rally victory after driving cautiously through the event's penultimate stage on Friday.
The X-raid Mini driver was only ninth quickest on the run from Copiapo to La Serene, almost 14 minutes off the pace.
But his advantage in the second half of the rally has been so great that even with that time loss Peterhansel still holds a 44-minute cushion going into Saturday's closing 128 kilometre stage to Santiago.
The fight for stage 13 honours was a close one. Robby Gordon looked to be in control until a surge from Guerlain Chicherit, and ultimately the Hummer driver pipped his SMG Buggy rival by just 22 seconds.
Gordon's second stage win in three days brings him up to 14th in the outright standings.
The major change to the leaderboard was for third place. One day after his fastest time on stage 12 brought him past X-raid team-mate Leonid Novitskiy, Nani Roma sacrificed the position to assist team leader Peterhansel.
Roma stopped and waited for the rally leader early on the stage to run with him so Peterhansel had assistance in the event of any drama.
With 11 minutes between him and Roma now, Novitskiy looks set to secure his first Dakar podium.
AUTOSPORT Dakar blogs:
Leading stage 13 results: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Robby Gordon Gordon Hummer 3h40m53s 2. Guerlain Chicherit SMG Buggy + 22s 3. Orlando Terranova X-raid BMW + 4m41s 4. Giniel de Villiers Imperial Toyota + 8m08s 5. Leonid Novitskiy X-raid Mini + 8m35s 6. Lucio Alvarez Overdrive Toyota + 11m01s 7. Carlos Sousa Great Wall + 12m45s 8. Ronan Chabot SMG Buggy + 13m05s 9. Stephane Peterhansel X-raid Mini + 13m51s 10. Yong Zhou Great Wall + 20m19s Leading positions after stage 13: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Stephane Peterhansel X-raid Mini 36h44m46s 2. Giniel de Villiers Imperial Toyota + 44m38s 3. Leonid Novitskiy X-raid Mini + 1h29m31s 4. Nani Roma X-raid Mini + 1h40m26s 5. Orlando Terranova X-raid BMW + 1h52m40s 6. Carlos Sousa Great Wall + 2h38m40s 7. Ronan Chabot SMG Buggy + 3h02m25s 8. Guerlain Chicherit SMG Buggy + 3h29m22s 9. Pascal Thomasse MD Buggy + 4h31m49s 10. Boris Garafulic X-raid Mini + 4h45m58s