Australian rider Toby Price says he has achieved his goal for the first week of the Dakar Rally having retained second place overall.
The 28-year-old has won three of the seven stages completed to sit three minutes and 12 seconds behind overall leader Paulo Goncalves.
In the last stage before the rest day, Price finished fifth behind Frenchman Antoine Meo.
Price, in his second Dakar, says he is determined not to drop his guard as the race enters its second week.
“My goal is to finish the race and get a podium spot,” Price said.
“We had a good first week, no significant mistakes, and our objective was to get to the rest day in a good position.”
Heavy storms and torrential rain have hampered the race’s first week and led to cancellations and changes.
Since encountering setbacks during stages three and four, Price has been able to stay largely trouble-free in the gruelling event in which riders are forced to endure headache-inducing high altitudes.
“I’m happy with the work we’ve done so far but it’s far from over, a mechanical or a navigational mistake can destroy everything,” Price said.
Price, from Singleton in the NSW Hunter Valley, had back-to-back wins on stages five and six.
“The Australian flags at the finish were great to see. It’s nice to get support when you’re racing so far from home,” he said.
In the car division, Sebastian Loeb leads at the midway point by more than two minutes from French countryman Stephane Peterhansel.
The Dakar Rally, running in Argentina and Bolivia, resumes on Monday and ends next Saturday in Rosario, Argentina.