RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- France's Cyril Despres took the overall lead in the Dakar Rally after winning Thursday's fourth stage in high altitude and scorching heat.
The 42-year-old Peugeot driver finished the 521km journey from Jujuy in Argentina to the Bolivian city of Tupiza in four hours 22 minutes and 55 seconds, 10 minutes and 51 seconds ahead of Mini driver Mikko Hirvonen.
Spaniard Nani Roma was third, two minutes further back in his Toyota, while defending champion Stephane Peterhansel took fourth in his Peugeot, 15 minutes and 15 seconds off the pace.
In one of the event's most gruelling stages, drivers had to contend with temperatures of almost 40 degrees celsius and altitudes of around 3,000m above sea level.
Thursday's result gave Despres the lead in the annual off-road race, four minutes and eight seconds ahead of Peterhansel and five minutes and four seconds in front of third-placed Hirvonen.
France's nine-time world rally champion, Sebastien Loeb, was fourth overall after his fifth placing on Thursday.