Australian rider Toby Price has stormed into the overall lead at the Dakar Rally after winning stage eight of the gruelling race.
Starting the day three minutes and 12 seconds behind leader Paulo Goncalves, Price triumphed in Belen, finishing more than five minutes ahead of the Portuguese rider to take a two minute overall lead on Monday.
The 28-year-old from Singleton in NSW’s Hunter region trailed Goncalves by 53 seconds at the first check point before skilfully completing the first passage through the dunes.
Goncalves crashed and was left without his navigation instruments, allowing Price to grab his fourth stage win of this year’s race.
“Paulo, me and him are battling,” Price said.
“It’s pretty much day for day. We take time off each other and I think it’s going to come down to minutes and seconds by the end of the week.
“He’s a real strong competitor and he’s got a lot more navigation skills than what I do, but we’re trying our best and keeping ourselves in front as much as we can.”
Price will now turn his attention to the event’s second two-day marathon stage where drivers cannot use their assistance teams.
“We’ve got to make sure on the first day that we don’t do anything silly and break the bike or damage the bike in any way because it makes the second day a whole lot worse,” Price said.
“We’ve just got to make sure we get through and look after ourselves those two days.”
In the car section of the Dakar, Stephane Peterhansel of France moved into the overall lead after finishing third in Monday’s eighth stage.
Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar won the stage, 12 seconds ahead of Carlos Sainz of Spain and 31 seconds in front of Peterhansel.
The rally ends Saturday in Rosario, Argentina.