Santosh continued his resurgence in the rankings, despite a troubled ankle owing to an earlier crash. The first being Adrien Metge whose campaign ended after the event's second stage.
Starting ninth, Barreda navigated the Tanaka section flawlessly and blazed to victory with a stage time of 3 hours, 19 minutes and 42 seconds, a full 10 minutes and 26 seconds ahead of stage runner-up Matthias Walkner on the Red Bull KTM.
Peterhansel, Loeb's team mate who had been almost seven minutes clear on Tuesday and is heading for a record 14th Dakar win, took the stage to extend his lead over Spaniard Carlos Sainz to 31 minutes and 16 seconds.
"Today I made a decision to trade off safety for speed but it does not matter as there is still a long way to go into the rally".
Loeb, who won Tuesday's stage for Peugeot and was second overall, halted five kilometers into the 266km stage from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, the last overnight stop before the rally enters Bolivia and the high-altitude stages. "If anything, I think we can move to a more aggressive setup for the coming stages, as these are closer to rally stages than cross-country stages".
The French ace's hopes of adding a Dakar to his nine world rally championship crowns at the third attempt had appeared encouraging after climbing to second in the standings.
Al-Attiyah wins 3rd stage of Dakar, Peterhansel tops…
"The idea was to go out and attack, and it went pretty well, but I had a slight mishap with the fuel and I lost some time fixing it", Benavides said.
For the fifth stage, the organisers separated the route for bikes/quads and cars/trucks. He has a better chance of completing the rally with top 20 finish. He finished nearly 28 minutes behind Sunderland.
With a well-deserved rest to look forward to, Hero rider CS Santosh said, "Bolivia has always been the turning point in the Dakar". I feel good and for me, the race starts now. Overall, Mena now stands at the 21st position at the end of stage 5.
Delivering consistent performances throughout the first half of the annual contest in South America, De Villiers was lying fifth overall in the general classification ahead of Friday's rest day, with the race moving from Peru to Bolivia.
"The day was tough", Brabec said.
After the race's only rest day, the field will tackle the seventh stage on Saturday between La Paz and Uyuni, which includes a 302km liaison and a 425km special. The bikers will have to change software and get ready for long stretches of good navigation before they hit the sand dunes at a high altitude.