Australia KTM ace Toby Price moved into third overall in the bike standings following a tightly-contested Stage 9 ahead of a marathon Wednesday in the 2020 Dakar Rally.
The defending Dakar champion finished second in Tuesday’s ninth stage, a 476km effort between Wadi ad-Dawasir and Haradh, with four riders covered by less than a minute 300 kilometres in.
The stage was eventually won by Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla, who tried to take a big chunk out of Ricky Brabec’s overall bikes lead.
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Under pressure from Price and the Honda duo of Joan Barreda and Brabec, Quintanilla pulled away as the stage wound down and eventually ousted Price by 1m54s.
A small crash didn’t hinder Barreda, who finished third, while Brabec finished fourth.
American Brabec still leads by 20m53s over Quintanilla, with Price and Barreda moving up to third and fourth respectively.
The latter duo demoted Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda), who finished eighth in the stage. Ross Branch (KTM) was fifth ahead of Benavides brothers Kevin (Honda) and Luciano (KTM).
It was Quintanilla’s first stage win of the 2020 rally and, like Price, went on the attack in a bid to cut the deficit to Brabec.
The longest of the three remaining stages, Wednesday’s Stage 10 from Haradh to Shubaytah, will see riders approach the “Empty Quarter” where the final stanza of the stage carries on through thick dunes.
A fourth career Dakar podium is now in Price’s hands, but the Aussie remains optimistic Brabec’s lead isn’t set in stone.
“Another long stage today covering 410km wide open at top speed, with the stage been so fast it is really difficult to make any time up on other competitors due to us all being able to follow and do much the same,” he posted to social media.
“That been said, I’m happy to have that stage behind me and now I can really focus on the small number of remaining days to try and close this gap up to the lead, bring in the marathon stage tomorrow.”