Toby Price has dropped further off the lead after the marathon 534km 10th stage of the Dakar Rally was substantially shortened for safety reasons following several crashes.
Organisers said their rescue helicopters were all deployed for fallen riders and with strong winds picking up, they decided on a shortened stage.
The Aussie title defender and leading KTM rider finished fourth, some three minutes behind Joan Barreda Bort (Honda, Spain), losing another couple of minutes to outright leader Ricky Brabec (Honda, USA).
If Brabec is victorious, he will be the first American to win the event and break KTM’s streak of 18 wins.
Sadly Paulo later died and the eighth stage was cancelled in his honour, leaving less opportunity for Toby to make up time.
“Today’s stage was cut short due to safety reasons,” Toby says.
There were a lot of drops throughout the course and I guess when we’re all traveling at such high speeds they do catch you out. I hope there were no serious injuries today and wishing those injured competitors a fast recovery.
“The cancellation of today’s stage has made it that much tougher for us to make up the time we needed. I was hoping to start a little further back tomorrow to make up that time but unfortunately that won’t be happening.
“We’re still in this race and aiming to get to the finish line strong.”
“Now I can really focus on the small number of remaining days to try and close this gap up to the lead,” he says.
Toby is dedicating his race to the loss of his friend, Paulo or “Speedy”.