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French driver increases lead at the annual endurance race, Dakar

(Reuters) - French driver Stephane Peterhansel won the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally in Bolivia on Monday to pull further ahead of Peugeot team mate and compatriot Sebastien Loeb.

After a rest day in La Paz on Sunday, and bad weather cutting short Saturday's sixth stage, the rally again made adjustments for the challenging conditions with a revamped route to the Uyuni salt flats.

The day's action was comprised of a reduced 161km special stage and link sections of 400km and 240km respectively either side of it.

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Dakar Rally 2017
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Dakar Rally 2017

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Seventh stage from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia 09/01/17. Juan Salvatierra of Bolivia rides his KTM.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Seventh stage from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia 09/01/17. Adrien Van Beveren of France rides his Yamaha.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Sixth stage from Oruro to La Paz, Bolivia 07/01/17. People watch the arrival of Dakar vehicles in La Paz, Bolivia, after stage 6 was cancelled due to heavy rains.

(REUTERS/David Mercado)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Seventh stage from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia 09/01/17. Nani Roma and co-driver Alex Haro Bravo of Spain drive their Toyota.

(REUTERS/Martin Mejia/Pool)

Aerial view of the 2017 Dakar Rally departure ceremony in Asuncion, Paraguay on January 1, 2017 ahead of the 2017 Dakar Rally which this year will thunder through Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia from January 2 to 14.

(REUTERS/Franck Fife/Pool)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Eighth stage from Uyuni, Bolivia to Salta, Argentina 10/01/17. Locals cross the river as Yves Tartarin of France drives his Land Rover with his copilot Stephane Duple.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Peugeot's French pilot Cyril Despres works on his car at the bivouac in Uyuni, Bolivia, after Stage 7 of the 2017 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni, on January 9, 2017.

(FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Eighth stage from Uyuni, Bolivia to Salta, Argentina 10/01/17. Romain Dumas of France drives his Peugeot with his copilot Alain Guehennec.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Seventh stage from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia 09/01/17. Isidre Esteve of Spain drives his Mitsubishi as his copilot Txema Villalobos directs from a pick-up .

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Eighth stage from Uyuni, Bolivia to Salta, Argentina 10/01/17. Helder Rodrigues of Portugal rides his Yamaha.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - First stage from Asuncion, Paraguay to Resistencia, Argentina 02/01/17. People observe as Matthias Walkner of Austria rides his KTM.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Seventh stage from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia 09/01/17. Nani Roma of Spain drives his Toyota with his copilot Alex Bravo.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Seventh stage from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia 09/01/17. Pablo Rodriguez of Argentina races his KTM.

(REUTERS/Martin Mejia/Pool)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Eighth stage from Uyuni, Bolivia to Salta, Argentina 10/01/17. Ricky Brabec of U.S rides his Honda.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Seventh stage from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia 09/01/17. Facundo Ardusso and co-pilot Scicolone Gerardo, both of Argentina, drive their Renault.

(REUTERS/Martin Mejia/Pool)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Seventh stage from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia 09/01/17. Boris Garafulic of Chile drives his Mini with his copilot Felipe Palmeiro.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Eighth stage from Uyuni, Bolivia to Salta, Argentina 10/01/17. Peugeot's driver Stephane Peterhansel and his co-driver Jean Paul Cottret of France in action.

(REUTERS/Franck Fife/Pool)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Eighth stage from Uyuni, Bolivia to Salta, Argentina 10/01/17. Peugeot's driver Stephane Peterhansel and his co-driver Jean Paul Cottret of France in action.

(REUTERS/Franck Fife/Pool)

Isidre Esteve of Spain and Mitsubishi DKR Raid drives with co-driver Txema Villalobos of Spain in the Proto ARC Mitsubishi car in the Classe : T1.S Vehicules Tout Terrain Ameliores et Non Lege past spectators during stage seven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni on January 9, 2017 at an unspecified location in Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Fans line the streets to greet the riders and drivers after stage six of the 2017 Dakar Rally between Oruro and La Paz was cancelled due to weather conditions on January 7, 2017 in La Paz, Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Rui Oliveira of Portugal and Yamaha CRN Competition rides a WR450F Yamaha bike in the Classe 2.1 : Super Production during stage seven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni on January 9, 2017 at an unspecified location in Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Sam Sunderland of Great Britain and KTM rides a 450 Rally Replica KTM bike in the Elite ASO is followed closely by Paulo Goncalves of Portugal and HRC Honda Rally Team rides a CRF450Rally Honda bike in the Elite ASO during stage seven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni on January 9, 2017 at an unspecified location in Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Robert Jr Van Pelt of the Netherlands and Husqvarna Van Pelt Motorsport rides a FR450 Rally Replica Husqvarna bike in the Classe 2.2 : Marathon during stage seven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni on January 9, 2017 at an unspecified location in Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

France's Adrien Van Beveren falls down with his Yamaha during the Stage 7 of the Dakar 2017 between La Paz and Uyuni, Bolivia, on January 9, 2017.

(FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Gaston Pando of Argentina and Yamaha Andres Justel rides a Raptor 700 R Yamaha quad bike in the Classe : 4 x 2 0 a 750 cm3 during stage seven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni on January 9, 2017 at an unspecified location in Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Aleksandr Ivaniutin of Russia and HT Husqvarna Rally rides a FR450 Rally Husqvarna bike in the Classe 2.1 : Super Production during stage seven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni on January 9, 2017 at an unspecified location in Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Stephan Schott of Germany and Mini X-Raid drives with co-driver Paulo Fiuza of Portugal in the ALL 4 Racing Mini car in the Classe : T1.2 : 4x4 Tout-Terrain Modifies Diesel during stage seven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni on January 9, 2017 at an unspecified location in Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Argentine Mini's driver Orlando Terranova and co-driver Andreas Schulz of Germany compete during the Stage 7 of the Dakar 2017 between La Paz and Uyuni, Bolivia, on January 9, 2017.

(FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

KTM's Austrian biker Matthias Walkner competes during the Stage 7 of the Dakar 2017 between La Paz and Uyuni, Bolivia, on January 9, 2017.

(FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Peugeot's co-driver Daniel Elena (R) of France speaks on a mobile phone next to co-driver Jean Paul Cottret of France at the bivouac in Uyuni after the Stage 7 of the Dakar 2017 between La Paz and Uyuni, Bolivia, on January 9, 2017.

(FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Fans line the streets to greet the riders and drivers after stage six of the 2017 Dakar Rally between Oruro and La Paz was cancelled due to weather condtitons on January 7, 2017 in La Paz, Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Mechanics work on Stephane Peterhansel of France and Peugeot Total's 3008 DKR Peugeot car during a rest day for the 2017 Dakar Rally on January 8, 2017 in La Paz, Bolivia.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Sixth stage from Oruro to La Paz, Bolivia 07/01/17. People watch the arrival of Dakar vehicles in La Paz, Bolivia, after stage 6 was cancelled due to heavy rains.

(REUTERS/David Mercado)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Fifth stage from Tupiza to Oruro, Bolivia 06/01/17. Juan Silva of Argentina drives his Mercedes with his copilot Sergio Lafuente.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - First stage from Asuncion, Paraguay to Resistencia, Argentina 02/01/17. Children observe as Facundo Ardusso of Argentina drives his Renault with his copilot Gerardo Scicolone.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - First stage from Asuncion, Paraguay to Resistencia, Argentina 02/01/17. Giniel de Villiers of South Africa drives his Toyota with his copilot Dirk Von Zitzewitz.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Dakar Rally - 2017 Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina Dakar rally - 39th Dakar Edition - Departure Ceremony - Asuncion, Paraguay 01/01/17. Laia Sanz of Espana rides her KTM from the podium.

(REUTERS/Jorge Adorno)

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Peterhansel's second win of the event gained him 48 seconds and left him with a lead of one minute 57 seconds over second-placed Loeb, with Toyota's Spanish driver Nani Roma third, 11 minutes off the pace.

"The lead is better than nothing," said Peterhansel of the slim margin.

"The overall classification is still very close, but it's a really interesting race for everybody. We're still in the fight and that's the most important thing."

The motorcycle category saw Britain's Sam Sunderland increase his lead after finishing third. Chile's Pablo Quintanilla is second overall and 17 minutes behind.

The rally, which finishes in Buenos Aires on Saturday, re-enters Argentina on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Neil Robinson)

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