P – Australian Toby Price has extended his overall lead in the motorcycle category of the Dakar Rally to almost half an hour.
In his quest to become the first Australian to win in any category of the gruelling race, Price scored his fifth stage win on Tuesday.
Trouble struck at the worst possible time for Price’s main rival, Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves.
Goncalves was three minutes behind Price for the stage when a branch pierced his radiator on the first leg of the marathon stage, where riders are not allowed assistance from their crew or access to parts.
Organisers stopped the race after the second checkpoint due to extreme heat, meaning Price was unable to fully capitalise on his dominant showing and Goncalves was given a lifeline by the possible application of a grouped time.
“We’ve got through pretty good,” Price said.
“We made a couple of little mistakes around the 100km mark.
“We got a little bit lost but, luckily, we found the way point and got ourselves back on track and going again.
“It was just good that we didn’t get lost. It was definitely tricky navigation today.”
Price won the stage by seven minutes from Kevin Benavides and finished 10 minutes faster than third-quickest Stefan Svitko.
The 28-year-old from Singleton in NSW’s upper Hunter region has the overall lead by almost 25 minutes over Svitko with four stages remaining.
Looking towards the second day of the race’s second marathon stage, Price admitted the conditions in the Argentine dunes were tricky.
“I still feel solid; I still feel really good,” Price said.
“It’s definitely hot right now at the moment, but we’ll suit up again, get going, get some air flowing and it shouldn’t be too bad.”
In the car division, Carlos Sainz claimed the lead in the Dakar Rally for the first time after winning the ninth stage.
Taking advantage of the struggles of Stephane Peterhansel, Sainz turned a two-minute deficit into a seven-minute lead on his fellow Frenchman.
The rally ends on Saturday in Rosario, Argentina.