Dakar favourites Cyril Despres and Marc Coma went head to head throughout the stunning 600KM Special stage in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
After riding for 6h 34m, just 29 seconds separated the two men with Frenchman Despres coming out on top.
Coma’s impressive ride has seen the former Dakar winner move up to second in the overall standings after a host of problems during the opening seven days. Coma remains 1h 06m 50s off the lead.
David Fretigne finished just five minutes behind Despres on a stage he could have easily won.
The Yamaha rider stopped to help two riders on the stage including Francisco Lopez who suffered a broken chain.
Fretigne said: “It was a very long day. I saw a couple of riders in trouble and I decided to stop and help them out.
"I had some problems myself early on when I hit a rock and crashed but I found a good rhythm after that.
"I lost time today and maybe could have won the stage, but I think it is important to help other riders.”
Craig Bounds maintained his status as number one Brit with another impressive 47th place finish to move up to 61st overall.
Paul Carlyle finished the first week of the Dakar in 79th overall with Irishman Phillip Noone in 87th and Tamsin Jones 94th.
Saturday 9th January is a rest day for all competitors given riders and teams the chance to rest whilst preparing for the second week of the gruelling event.
Stage 7 – Iquique to Antofagasta
Friday 8th January 2010
1 Cyril DESPRES 28:10:13
2 MARC COMA 29:17:03 + 01:06:50.00
3 Helder RODRIGUES 29:30:21 + 01:20:08.00
4 PAL ANDERS ULLEVALSETER 29:36:05 + 01:25:52.00
5 Francisco LOPEZ 29:41:17 + 01:31:04.00
6 ALAIN DUCLOS 30:00:19 + 01:50:06.00
7 DAVID FRETIGNE 30:16:10 + 02:05:57.00
8 JONAH STREET 30:16:41 + 02:06:28.00
9 Juan PEDRERO GARCIA 30:35:56 + 02:25:43.00
10 Vadim PRITULYAK 30:36:35 + 02:26:22.00
61 Craig BOUNDS 42:44:12 + 14:33:59.00
79 Paul CARLYLE 52:05:13 + 23:55:00.00
87 Philip NOONE 60:17:01 + 32:06:48.00
94 Tamsin JONES 70:18:52 + 42:08:39.00