Navigation caused lots of problems on the eighth stage of the Dakar rally when many drivers and riders lost valuable time trying to find their way on a new track.

Navigation caused lots of problems on the eighth stage of the Dakar rally when many drivers and riders lost valuable time trying to find their way on a new track.

This was the first leg of a marathon stage, where no technical support would be available at the bivouac and all repairs had to be carried out by the competitors themselves.

Soft sand, strong winds and misread road books on a new track accounted for most of the casualties yesterday, with several participants getting lost or stuck in the dunes.

After a three-way bike battle at the finish, Joan Roma took the stage. Jean Brucy took second position and was followed by Richard Sainct.

Roma's stage win knocked Cyril Depres off the overall top spot, ahead of rivals Sainct and Brucy.

Alfie Cox's day went horribly as he too was misdirected and lost lots of time. Cox managed to hold on to an overall fourth place, even though his day he too was misdirected and lost lots of valuable time.

Things did not look any better in the Car competition.

It was a particularly tough day for the Proudly South African Nissan Rally Raid Team that rallied to complete the stage through team spirit.

Giniel de Villiers experienced electrical problems early in the stage and later ran out of fuel. He managed to finish though after siphoning fuel off the cars of teammates Ari Vatanen and Colin McRae, who were not without their own problems.

Vatanen was one of the several participants who got lost and also experienced a worrying puncture.

McRae, who admitted to having had a "terrible day" had a broken transmission and were forced to labour with two-wheel drive until de Villiers arrived to tow his vehicle.

Stephane Peterhansel was victorious in stage eight's special. Jutta Kleinschmidt was second while Gregoire de Mevius rounded off the stage's top three.

The stage win ensured Peterhansel a substantial one-hour lead over de Mevius in the overall standings. Third is Peterhansel's Mitsubishi teammate, Hiroshi Masuoka.

In stage nine, the second of two marathon stages, the 736 km special stage will take participants between Tidjikja and Nema.