Toby Price gives the thumbs up during stage eight of the Dakar Rally between San Juan de Marcona and Pisco, Peru. Picture: AFP
Toby Price gives the thumbs up during stage eight of the Dakar Rally between San Juan de Marcona and Pisco, Peru. Picture: AFP

Injured Aussie on cusp of historic Dakar win

AUSTRALIAN motorcycling ace Toby Price was red-lining as he battled intense pain to close in on winning his second Dakar Rally.

The 2016 Dakar champion, who was in sixth place after the opening stage and managed to stay in touch with the frontrunners, finally bagged the overall lead with a third-place finish during the 360km eighth stage.

Price led for most of the stage, from San Juan de Marcona up the Peruvian coast to Pisco, before defending champion Matthias Walkner and Pablo Quintanilla overtook him late.

But the 31-year-old Queenslander, who had surgery on his fractured wrist in December, was more than content with the result after contending with immense pain.

"Today, I knew it had to count. That was my maximum ... I can't do any more," Price said.

"My wrist is on fire. There's times when you can rest and when you can't. You've just got to somehow shut (the pain) off."

Two final stages, from Pisco to Pisco (313km) and then on to Lima (112km), stand between Price becoming the 10th man to win the motorbike event at least twice in its 41-year history.

Toby Price during stage seven of the Dakar Rally at San Juan de Marcona, Peru. Picture: Getty Images
Toby Price during stage seven of the Dakar Rally at San Juan de Marcona, Peru. Picture: Getty Images

The Australian holds a 63-second advantage over Quintanilla heading into the second to last stage, with fellow KTM rider Walkner more than six minutes back.

Overnight motorbike leader Ricky Brabec was out of Tuesday's stage after 56km when his Honda engine failed, the same fate he suffered last year.

Unlike Price, cars leader Nasser Al-Attiyah has a little more breathing room. Apart from a puncture, Al-Attiyah remained remarkably blunder free.

He extended the lead he's held for all but one day from 29 minutes to 46. Barring a major mistake, the Qatari will win the world's toughest rally for a third time on Thursday after taking the title in 2011 and 2015.

He's been runner-up three other times, including last year.

His biggest rival, 13-time champion Stephane Peterhansel, found trouble, along with defending champion Carlos Sainz and Cyril Despres, in the dunes of Ica.

Peterhansel got stuck in the sand twice, dropping him from second in the general standings to fourth, 53 minutes behind Al-Attiyah.

The Frenchman can still fight for a podium place with Nani Roma and Sebastien Loeb, who are only seven minutes ahead of him.

News Corp Australia


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