(CNN) -- A flat tire saw Stéphane Peterhansel's lead in the Dakar Rally cut to seven and a half minutes by American Bobby Gordon who finished second behind stage eight winner Nani Roma.
Peterhansel suffered a puncture 30km from the end of the stage between Copiapo and Antofagasta and saw his overall lead whittled down to seven minutes 36 seconds by Gordon.
The American lost out to Roma, from Spain, by just five seconds and is still awaiting his first stage win in the 2012 rally.
Defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah, from Qatar, was disrupted by technical problems and had to stop on several occasions. He now trails Peterhansel by over 45 minutes.
Pole Krzysztof Hołowczyc is third, 12 seconds behind Gordon and 7 minutes 48 secs behind the leader.
Peterhansel is a Dakar legend with three car titles and six on motorbikes, all coming before the grueling endurance event moved to South America in 2009 but he didn't enjoy his best stage on Monday.
He told the Dakar Rally's official website: "I am losing loads of time. I drove quite slowly in the rocky parts because I was scared of punctures. And despite this... I had one 30 km from the finish. It was a bad special, but that is the way it is.
"Gordon started three minutes before us, and 180 kilometres from here we had got to 30 seconds behind him. I think that when he saw us he stepped it up, leaving us in the dust.
"He can win this thing, so it is essential for him to manage this situation as well as he can."
Defending motorcycle champion Marc Coma sealed the 20th stage win of his Dakar Rally career as rival Cyril Despres got stuck in the mud.
Stage eight saw Coma, from Spain, snatch the lead from the Frenchman and build a lead of one minute and 26 seconds.
Despres spent ten minutes trying to extricate himself from a patch of mud and cut a frustrated figure at the end of the stage.
He said: "There was a torrent of mud between the inspection of the reconnaissance car two days ago and today. Therefore, it did not appear in the road book and I was the first to fall into the trap.
"There was no way I could have avoided it. I am awaiting the organisers' decision: after Ullevalseter, Gonçalves and a few others had gone through, they took a detour, otherwise there would have been 200 vehicles trapped in the mud.
"So I fail to see why I and the others should be the only ones to pay the price. But I do not think we will let this be."