Stephane Peterhansel became the fourth different driver to top a stage in the 2020 Dakar Rally, as Nasser Al-Attiyah halved the gap to leader Carlos Sainz.
Wednesday's Neom - Al-'Ula stage included the marathon's longest timed test so far at 281 miles, which was split by an 80km neutralised zone, and was completed by Peterhansel in just over four hours.
The 13-time Dakar champion was sixth in the starting order, but his X-raid Mini buggy was the third car to arrive at the finish line and he clocked the fastest time at all but the first waypoint.
Sainz looked on course to minimise the damage from having to open the road, but gave up over four minutes in the final 60 miles of the test.
This means Toyota driver Al-Attiyah, who had started the day as Sainz's closest rival and was a close second to Peterhansel through the stage, now trails the leader by just three minutes.
Al-Attiyah had received a three-minute penalty after Tuesday's stage as he was adjudged to have impeded Sainz.
The Wednesday stage win has elevated Peterhansel to third place overall behind his two fellow Dakar champions, with his gains coming at the expense of Mini driver Orlando Terranova and Toyota's Yazeed Al-Rajhi.
Al-Rajhi had been fastest at the opening waypoint but ended the stage 11m30s off Peterhansel's pace.
Yet this was enough for Al-Rajhi to overhaul Terranova by three seconds in the general classification.
Dakar 2020's surprise package - Mathieu Serradori - continued to keep the pace in his Century buggy, finishing fifth on the day and retaining sixth place overall.
He outpaced Al-Attiyah's Toyota Gazoo team-mates Giniel de Villiers and Bernhard ten Brinke, who make up the top eight in the standings.
Double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso, who had entered the day 32nd overall after lengthy damage repairs on Monday, finished 26 minutes off the pace in his Toyota.
Elsewhere, Erik van Loon rolled and a lengthy stoppage for two-time champion Nani Roma, who is contesting his first Dakar with German marque Borgrward.
Leading stage four times
|1||C||Stephane Peterhansel||Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||4h04m34.s|
|2||C||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||2m26.s|
|3||C||Carlos Sainz||Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||7m18.s|
|4||C||Yazeed Al-Rajhi||Overdrive Toyota||Toyota||11m30.s|
|5||C||Mathieu Serradori||SRT Racing||Century/?||13m17.s|
|6||C||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||18m16.s|
|7||C||Bernhard Ten Brinke||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||18m35.s|
|8||C||Jakub Przygonski||Orlen X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||19m23.s|
|9||C||Orlando Terranova||X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||22m22.s|
|1||C||Carlos Sainz||Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||15h12m12.s|
|2||C||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||3m03.s|
|3||C||Stephane Peterhansel||Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||11m42.s|
|4||C||Yazeed Al-Rajhi||Overdrive Toyota||Toyota||23m10.s|
|5||C||Orlando Terranova||X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||23m13.s|
|6||C||Mathieu Serradori||SRT Racing||Century/?||26m55.s|
|7||C||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||34m40.s|
|8||C||Bernhard Ten Brinke||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||44m40.s|
|9||C||Martin Prokop||MP Sports||Ford||1h09m41.s|
|10||C||Yasir Saeidan||Race World Team||Mini/BMW||1h30m25.s|
|11||C||Benediktas Vanagas||General Financing Team Pitlane||Toyota||1h35m19.s|
|12||C||Ronan Chabot||Overdrive Toyota||Toyota||1h41m55.s|
|14||C||Wei Han||Geely Auto Shell Lubricant Team||Hanwei/Geely||2h00m32.s|
|15||C||Denis Krotov||MSK Rally Team||Mini/BMW||2h11m17.s|
|16||C||Fernando Alonso||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||2h59m27.s|
|17||C||Jakub Przygonski||Orlen X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||6h33m56.s|