Spanish driver Fernando Gil is the leader early in the Paris to Dakar Rally after navigating a muddy special stage in La Souterraine, France.
Gil in a Seat Cordoba finished the special stage in six minutes, 43 seconds. Another Spanish driver, Miguel Prieto in a Mitsubishi Pajero was second, 26 seconds back. Six-time Dakar Rally motorcycle champion Stephane Peterhansel of France finished third in a Nissan pick-up 29 seconds off the leader.
Reigning champion Jutta Kleinschmidt of Germany in a Mitsubishi finished eighth. The winner of the special took the stage win.
In the motorcycle competition, Frenchman Pierre Quinonero on a KTM won the special in six minutes, 12 seconds and leads the overall standings.
The stage ended in Narbonne, France, and a driver not related to the rally was killed when he struck a support vehicle in the southern French town of Montauban.
Sunday's stage is a 930-kilometer trek from Narbonne to Madrid, Spain. The 9,436 kilometer rally ends in Dakar, Senegal January 13.