Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel has won the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally and has taken the overall lead in the car section.

The Frenchman, driving a Mitsubishi, finished the 660-kilometer stage from Zouerat to Tichit, Mauritania, in 8:21.57. 

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah in a BMW was second, 25 minutes, 40 seconds behind the French driver.  Jutta Kleinschmidt of Germany finished third in a Volkswagen, more than 26 minutes behind the stage winner.

Peterhansel leads countryman Luc Alphand by 21 minutes, 32 seconds in the overall standings.

In the motorcycle section, French rider David Fretigne won aboard a Yamaha, finishing in nine hours, 16 minutes, 26 seconds.  Marc Coma of Spain was second aboard a KTM four minutes, 31 seconds back.  Cyril Despres of France was third, also aboard a KTM. 

Coma leads Despres by 16 seconds in the overall standings, with Australian Andy Caldecott and Alfie Cox of South Africa sharing third. 

The eighth stage Friday has competitors covering 538 kilometers from Tichit to Tidjikja, Mauritania.  The race ends in Dakar, Senegal, January 16.   

Some information for this report provided by AFP.