In a race that has already claimed three lives, the organizers of the 2012 Dakar Rally called off Friday's stage six due to dangerous, snowy weather conditions in the Andes.
The drivers made their way from Argentina to the Chilean city of Copiapo through the high mountain pass in a convoy Friday, but the stage was not considered a competitive leg.
It was not immediately clear if the sixth leg would be run later, or if the rally would simply move to the seventh leg on Saturday.
On Wednesday nine-time champion Stephane Peterhansel moved into first place in the Dakar Rally with a victory in the fourth stage.
The French driver, racing in a Mini, completed the 202-mile special stage in 3 hours, 49 minutes, 33 seconds. Peterhansel has won six times on motorbikes, and three in cars.
The following day, Thursday, Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland won the fifth stage, taking second place in the overall standings in the car category behind Peterhansel.
In motorcycling, Despres won the stage and maintained his overall lead ahead of defending champion Marc Coma of Spain.
The race has now moved into Chile and will finish in Lima, Peru, on Jan. 15. The Dakar Rally moved to South America in 2009, after security threats in Africa.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.